What's New

Easter holidays in schools

All schools will close for the Easter break on Friday 23 March 2018, unless they need to make up for time lost due to unforeseen closures.
If a school needs to make up time, it may stay open up to and including Wednesday 28 March 2018.
All schools will re-open on Monday 9 April 2018.

Read more about school terms.


Public holidays

St Patrick’s Day (17 March) is a public holiday. Most employees are entitled to paid leave on public holidays.

If the public holiday falls on a day which is not a normal working day for that business (for example, on Saturday or Sunday) you are still entitled to benefit for that public holiday. In 2018 St Patrick’s Day falls on a Saturday. If you are not rostered to work on St Patrick’s Day in 2018, you are entitled to one of the following:

  • An additional day of annual leave
  • An additional day’s pay
  • A paid day off within a month of the public holiday

If you do work on St Patrick’s Day in 2018, you are entitled to be paid for the day as usual. In addition, you are also entitled to benefit for the public holiday (as set out above).

Note that, where a public holiday falls on a weekend, you do not have any automatic legal entitlement to have the next working day off work.

If you work part-time and the public holiday falls on a day you normally work, you are entitled to a day’s pay for the holiday (provided you have worked at least 40 hours for that employer in the 5 weeks before the public holiday). If you are required to work that day, you are entitled to an additional day’s pay. If you do not normally work on that particular day, you should get one-fifth of your weekly pay. Even if you are never rostered to work on a public holiday, you are entitled to one-fifth of your weekly pay as compensation for the public holiday.

You can read more about your public holiday entitlements on workplacerelations.ie.

Know Your Rights: Parental leave


What is parental leave? Can both parents take it?

Answer (February 2018)

Each parent of an eligible child may take up to 18 weeks of unpaid parental leave from work. Leave can be taken no later than the child’s eighth birthday. However, if your child has a disability or a long-term illness, you can take parental leave up to their 16th birthday. If you adopt a child between the ages of six and eight, you can take leave for that child up to two years after the date of the adoption order. (Your contract of employment may also provide for an extended age limit.)

You can take 18 weeks of leave per child in one continuous period or in two separate blocks of a minimum of six weeks. If you take it in two separate blocks, there must be a gap of at least 10 weeks between the two periods of leave per child. However, if your employer agrees, you can separate parental leave into periods of days or even hours.

Taking parental leave does not affect your other employment rights. Apart from the loss of pay and pension contributions, your position remains as if no parental leave had been taken. This means, for example, that while on parental leave you will continue to accumulate your annual leave entitlement. While you are on parental leave, a public holiday that falls on a day when you would normally be working is added to your period of leave.

When you return to work after taking parental leave, you can ask for a change in your work pattern or working hours for a set period. Your employer must consider your request, but is not obliged to grant it.

Both parents have an equal entitlement to 18 weeks’ parental leave each. Unless you and your partner work for the same employer, this leave is non-transferable; you can only claim your own parental leave entitlement of up to 18 weeks per child. However, if you both work for the same employer and your employer agrees, you may transfer up to 14 weeks of your parental leave entitlement to each other.

Water supplies affected by cold weather

The recent cold weather has caused many water pipes to freeze and burst, affecting water supplies in many areas. As a result, a series of water restrictions are now in place. Alternative water supplies are being provided in areas with no supply.

Irish Water has useful tips on how people can reduce their water use.

If you notice a leak on public property, you can report it to Irish Water to be fixed.

You can check on water.ie for service alerts in your area.

Extreme weather

Met Éireann has issued weather warnings nationwide as Storm Emma approaches. There are three categories of weather warning: status yellow, status orange and status red. You can check the current status of the weather warning in your area on met.ie.

Visit winterready.ie for detailed advice on how to cope with winter weather. The website has categories covering the home, road safety, schools, the farming community and the business sector and includes a Be Winter Ready booklet (pdf). You can find tips on preventing frozen water pipes and unexpected leaks on water.ie.

Employers and employees disrupted by the weather can find information about their rights and obligations on workplacerelations.ie.

The Department of Education and Skills provides guidelines for school management (pdf) with advice about ensuring school premises are safe, communication with parents and what action to take in the case of each weather warning. Many schools close when a status red weather warning is issued.

The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection is providing ongoing updates about its services and supports for people who may have difficulty with heating costs.

Follow the Office of Emergency Planning on Twitter @emergency.ie for updates.

Know Your Rights: Treatment Abroad Scheme


I know that medical treatments available in Ireland can be accessed in other EU countries instead. What if I need a treatment that is not available in Ireland?

Answer (January 2018)

If you are entitled to public health services that are available in Ireland, you can access these services in the European Economic Area (EEA) and be repaid the cost under the Cross-Border Healthcare Directive.

If you are a public patient and need treatment that is not available to you in Ireland, you may be able to use the Treatment Abroad Scheme to get the treatment in another country in the EEA, or in Switzerland. The Scheme may provide help with your travel fare and, in some cases, the fare for a travelling companion.

You must be referred for treatment abroad by an Irish-based consultant who is treating you as a public patient. You cannot refer yourself or be referred by a GP.

You and the consultant complete an application form and include a copy of your referral letter. Your application must be approved by the Health Service Executive (HSE) before you travel or start treatment abroad. You usually get a decision on your application within 15 to 20 working days.

If your application is approved, the HSE will issue a form called E112. This authorises treatment abroad so that you do not have to make any payment to the healthcare provider. The treatment you have abroad must be in public healthcare under a registered medical practitioner. It must be in a recognised hospital or other institution that accepts the form E112. If you don’t have the form when you attend at your appointment, you may be charged and not be refunded. Any treatments or consultations that are not pre-approved will not be covered.

The Ombudsman has produced a report that suggests improvements to the application and appeals process. It recommends that, by the end of February 2018,  the HSE produce a plan and schedule for making the suggested changes.

To apply for the scheme, contact the Treatment Abroad Scheme Office for an application form. You can get the contact details for your area by calling the HSE Infoline on the Callsave number 1850 24 1850 or online at hse.ie/treatmentabroad.