Know Your Rights: Public holidays at Christmas

I work full time, Monday to Friday. What days off will I get at Christmas?

Christmas Day (December 25 ), St Stephen’s Day (December 26 ), and New Year’s Day (January 1 ) are public holidays every year. In 2016, Christmas Day falls on a Sunday and St Stephen’s Day falls on a Monday. New Year’s Day, 2017, falls on a Sunday. Where a public holiday falls on a weekend, you do not have any automatic legal entitlement to have the next working day off work.

This means that Tuesday, December 27, is not a public holiday. Your employer can require you to attend work on that day. Your public holiday entitlement for Christmas Day will be one of the following: a paid day off within a month of the public holiday; an additional day of annual leave; an additional day’s pay.

Under the Organisation of Working Time Act (1997 ) you may ask your employer, at least 21 days before a public holiday, which of the alternatives will apply to you. Your employer should respond to you at least 14 days before the public holiday. In practice, many employers will give employees Tuesday, December 27, and Monday, January 2, off in lieu of Christmas Day and New Year’s Day – but it is important to remember that this is not an automatic entitlement.

You can find out more about public holidays in the explanatory booklet on holidays and public holidays which is available from the Workplace Relations Commission website at

If you do not get your public holiday entitlement, you may make a complaint under the Organisation of Working Time Act within six months of the dispute or complaint occurring. You must use the online complaint form available from the Workplace Relations Commission website.

Know Your Rights has been compiled by Westmeath Citizens Information Service, which provides a free and confidential service to the public. For more information call (0761 ) 076610. Information is also available online at and from the Citizens Information Phone Service on (0761 ) 074000.


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