Covid 19 – Annual Leave and Public Holidays during Lay Off Q&As

by Laura Graham, Partner in the employment law team at Reddy Charlton Solicitors

Do employees accrue annual leave while on lay off?

Annual leave is calculated by reference to time an employee works (with the exception of medically certified sick leave).

An employee is not working during lay off and therefore does not continue to accrue annual leave during the period of lay off.

However, if an employee has already accrued annual leave prior to the lay off, that employee is entitled to be paid for that annual leave, on resumption of employment or if the employment relationship comes to an end.

Depending on the length of lay off, employees may reach the threshold of 1,365 hours work in a leave year. In those circumstances, the employee is entitled to 4 working weeks in the leave year, provided the threshold of hours worked is reached, irrespective of whether that employee has been on lay off or not.

Employers also need to be mindful of contractual provisions. While most contracts will either provide that annual leave is (i) pro rated by reference to time worked or (ii) calculated in accordance with the Organisation of Working Time Act, some contracts will simply provide that an employee is entitled to 20 days’ annual leave. In those circumstances, an employee may claim a contractual entitlement to their full annual leave, irrespective of the fact that they have been on a period of lay off.

Do employees accrue public holidays while on lay off?

For the first 13 weeks of lay off, employees are entitled to be paid for public holidays.

Under the Organisation of Working Time Act, an employer is entitled to elect which of the four entitlements the employee will receive. The four entitlements are:-

1. A paid day off on that day;
2. A paid day off within a month of that day;
3. An additional day of annual leave;
4. An additional day’s pay.

After 13 weeks of lay off, employees are not entitled to be paid for any subsequent public holidays.

About the author
Laura is a Partner in the employment law team in Reddy Charlton Solicitors. As an employment law specialist, Laura has significant experience in assisting employers and employees on the full range of legal issues that may arise during the employment relationship.
As well as providing advice on day-to-day issues such as employment contracts, managing grievance and disciplinary issues, workplace leave, restrictive covenants and reorganisations, Laura also has strong experience in advising on transfer of undertaking situations, and contentious employment disputes before the Workplace Relations Commission and the Irish Courts.
Working closely with the commercial team, Laura is attuned to the importance of seeking a balance between the commercial needs of business and the management of a business’ most valuable resource, employees.
As the firm’s risk management manager, Laura recognises the importance of having robust policies and procedures in place and has strong experience in drafting policies and procedures, handbooks and contractual documents.
Laura is a member of the Employment Law Association of Ireland and is a Registered Trade Mark Attorney.