Are you registered to vote in the next referendum?

The Register of Electors for 2018-2019 came into force on 15 February 2018. You can check to see if your name is on the Register.

If you are eligible to vote but are not on the Register of Electors, you can apply to be included in the supplement to it.

You can apply at any time. However, you can only be included in the supplement used at the referendum on 25 May 2018 if your local authority receives your application by Tuesday 8 May 2018.

If you wish to be included in the supplement to the Postal Voters List or the Special Voters List in time to vote in the referendum, the local authority must receive your application by Saturday 28 April 2018.

All application forms are available on checktheregister.ie and from your local authority.

Read more about registering to vote.

Is Good Friday a public holiday?

Good Friday falls on 30 March in 2018. It is not a public holiday. While many businesses close on Good Friday, you have no automatic entitlement to time off work on that day.

However, Easter Monday is a public holiday. This year it falls on Monday 2 April.

If a public holiday falls on a day on which you normally work, you are entitled to either:

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

If the public holiday falls on a day on which you do not normally work, then you are entitled to one-fifth of your normal weekly wage for that day.

Part-time employees qualify for public holiday entitlement if they have worked at least 40 hours during the 5 weeks ending on the day before a public holiday.

Read more about your public holiday entitlements.

Know Your Rights: Part-time work and social welfare payments

Question

I’m working part-time on a low wage. Do I qualify for any social welfare payments?

Answer (February 2018)

It depends on your personal circumstances. Many people work part-time before taking up full-time employment. If you are working part-time you can, in some cases, keep or apply for a partial social welfare payment, or you may qualify for additional supports.

If you work over 38 hours in a fortnight and you have children you may be able to claim Working Family Payment (WFP), formerly known as Family Income Supplement or FIS. WFP is a weekly tax-free payment for people on low pay.

You may be able to claim a jobseeker’s payment for the days you are not working. You can work part-time for up to three days a week and claim a reduced Jobseeker’s Benefit or Jobseeker’s Allowance payment. You may qualify for the Part-Time Job Incentive Scheme if you were getting Jobseeker’s Allowance and find part-time work for less than 24 hours per week.

However, one of the main conditions for getting a jobseeker’s payment is that you must be available for work and actively seeking work. This means that you must continue to look for work on the days you are unemployed. You must also be unemployed for at least four days out of seven consecutive days.

If you return to work after a period of unemployment, you may qualify for the Back to Work Family Dividend (BTWFD) which aims to help families move from social welfare into employment. The BTWFD and WFP can be paid together and the BTWFD is not taken into account in the means test for WFP.

If you are parenting alone and getting a One-Parent Family Payment, you are allowed to earn a certain amount each week and keep your payment. In some cases, people getting disability payments can do some work and keep a social welfare payment.

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

Question

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.