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Annual leave in Ireland is set out in the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997 and should also be stated within an employee’s contract of employment. Full-time employees in Ireland are entitled to four weeks of paid annual leave every year. Part-time employees and employees who join a company after the beginning of the leave year are granted annual leave on a pro-rata basis.

Annual leave is a statutory leave that entitles an employee to paid time off work. All employees in Ireland are entitled to paid statutory annual leave, which includes full-time, part-time, temporary, apprentices, agency, and casual employees.

What is Annual Leave?

Annual leave is an opportunity for an employee to disconnect from work, take a break, spend time away from their workplace, and benefit from a good work-life balance. An employer is legally obliged to ensure an employee receives their annual leave on an annual basis. An employee’s contract of employment may give greater entitlements, and the employer will be required to adhere to the contractual entitlements.

In addition to annual leave in Ireland, employment legislation may entitle an employee to various types of leave from work in varying circumstances. These may include, but are not limited to:

  • Public Holidays (Organisation of Working Act, 1997) 
  • Maternity Leave (Maternity Protection Act 1994 and 2004) 
  • Paternity Leave (Paternity Leave and Benefit Act, 2016) 
  • Adoptive Leave (Adoptive Leave Act, 1995) 
  • Carer’s Leave (Carers Leave Act, 2001) 
  • Parental Leave (Parental Leave Act 1998-2019) 
  • Parents Leave (Parent’s Leave and Benefit Act 2019)

Annual leave should be taken within the appropriate leave year, and where permitted to carry over annual leave to the following year, leave must be taken within the first six months of that year. If it is not taken, the employee may lose their entitlement to the leave.

Annual Leave/Sick Leave

  • If an employee is sick while on their annual leave, they should provide a doctor’s certificate to their employer as soon as possible to cover the days they are sick.
  • Employers cannot require an employee to take annual leave if the employee has a doctor’s certificate to cover a period of absence.
  • An employee will accrue annual leave during any period of certified sick leave.

Accrual of Annual Leave while on other leave types

An employee will continue to accrue annual leave while on the following leave types:

  • Annual leave 
  • Certified Sick Leave 
  • Maternity Leave 
  • Additional Maternity Leave 
  • Paternity Leave 
  • Parents Leave 
  • Parental Leave  
  • Adoptive Leave 
  • Force Majeure Leave  
  • The first 13 weeks of Carer’s leave  

Annual Leave and Leaving Employment

Under the Organisation of Working Time 1997, an employer is not permitted to pay an allowance in lieu of the minimum statutory holiday entitlements of an employee, unless the employment relationship is terminated. If the employee is leaving employment, they are entitled to receive payment for any outstanding annual leave.

How many days of holiday is an employee entitled to in Ireland?

The Organisation of Working Time Act 1997 provides for an entitlement of annual leave as follows: 

  • 4 working weeks where an employee has worked for at least 1,365 hours in a leave year 
  • One-third of a working week for each month in the leave year in which he or she works at least 117 hours, or 
  • 8% of the hours he or she works in a leave year (but subject to a maximum of 4 working weeks).

When an employee has been working for their employer for 8 months or more in a leave year, they are entitled to an unbroken two-week period of annual leave.

How is Annual Leave in Ireland calculated?

The following examples explain how annual leave in Ireland is calculated:

Example 1:

  • Kelly works 40 hours per week 
  • 40 x 52 weeks in a leave year = 2,080 hours in a leave year 
  • This is over 1,365 hours in a leave year as per the legislation so Kelly is entitled to 20 days of annual leave paid @ 40hours per week

Example 2:

  • Jennifer works 4 days per week at 39 hours per week.   
  • This is more than 117 hours per month (624), one-third of the hours of a working week. 
  • One-third of the 4 day working week is – 4 x 0.333 = 1.332 = rounding up is 1.34 
  • In a full year (i.e. 12 months) will accumulate 1.34 * 12 = 16.08 days annual leave.

Example 3:

  • Mags works 20 hours per week  
  • 20 x 52 weeks in a year = 1,040 hours per year 
  • As the employee won’t work over 117 hours in a month (i.e., 20 hours x 4 weeks = 80 hours), we are going to get the 8% of hours worked. 
  • So 1,040 / 100 = 10.4 * 8 = 83.2 hours due in a whole year

If an employer requires further clarification on the calculation of annual leave, they may contact their HR Consultant.

Are Bank Holidays part of Annual Leave in Ireland?

people marching in a St Patricks day parade in Ireland during a public holiday

Bank holidays may commemorate a special day or other event in Ireland, for example, St. Patrick’s Day (17th March) or Christmas Day (25th December). On a public holiday, sometimes called a bank holiday, many businesses and schools close. Public holidays are in addition to an employee’s annual leave entitlement.

How many bank holidays do we get in Ireland?

There are 10 public holidays in Ireland, which are as follows:

  1. The first of January 
  2. The first Monday in February, except where the 1st of February is a Friday, in which case it will be that Friday  
  3. St Patrick’s Day 
  4. Easter Monday 
  5. The first Monday in May 
  6. The first Monday in June 
  7. The first Monday in August 
  8. The last Monday in October 
  9. Christmas Day 
  10. St Stephens Day

All employees are entitled to public holiday benefits. Part-time employees must have worked at least 40 hours in the previous 5 weeks to qualify. Public holiday entitlements will be granted per the provisions of the Organisation of Working Time Act, 1997, and paid at a standard rate. An employee may be required to attend work on a public holiday in line with business requirements. 


How do I ask for annual leave?

Annual leave must be applied for and approved in advance through their manager. The employee should give at least two weeks’ notice of holiday requests using an annual leave application form or via email.

Employers should endeavour to cooperate with the employee in fixing the holiday dates. Such dates will remain at the ultimate discretion of the employer.

What is pro-rata annual leave?

If an employee works part-time or joins the company after the commencement of the leave year, annual leave will be calculated on a pro-rata basis. This means the annual leave entitlement for the year will be calculated in proportion to the number of hours the employee works compared to that of a full-time employee. 

Can an employer refuse annual leave in Ireland?

An employer has the discretion as to when they allow for annual leave to be taken. The employer must take into consideration the need to reconcile work and family responsibilities and opportunities for rest and recreation. 

An employer is entitled to force the employee to take annual leave, provided that they consult with the employee at least one month before the intended leave date. Employers must be able to show they attempted to encourage their employees to take their annual leave.

Is annual leave paid?

Annual Leave in Ireland is a statutory leave which entitles an employee to paid time off work. All employees in Ireland are entitled to paid statutory annual leave which includes full-time, part-time, temporary, apprentices, agency and casual employees. 

Ciarán Finnegan

As The HR Suite's Chief Operating Officer, Ciarán is responsible for overseeing all operational aspects of The HR Suite including strategic planning, process optimisation, and driving growth initiatives. Ciarán brings a wealth of experience and expertise to this critical leadership role. Prior to joining The HR Suite, Ciarán had a long and prosperous career in the human resource field as the Head of HR at Sodexo for Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. Here he was responsible for overseeing all aspects of Sodexo’s human resource’s function and People strategy, leading a team of experienced HR professionals. Ciarán’s duties and responsibilities encompassed a wide range of activities aimed at developing Sodexo’s workforce and people functions, to achieve its strategic goals. Ciarán has a BA in Economics, MSc in Management and started his career in hotel operations management before transitioning into human resources.