Public holidays and time off

Monday 29 October 2018 is a public holiday. If you normally work on a Monday, 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 you do not normally work on a Monday, 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.

Political activity at polling stations

If you are voting tomorrow, remember that political activity is strictly prohibited at polling stations on polling day.

You cannot display or distribute campaign materials, or canvass in any form.

The prohibition also applies in the grounds of the polling station and within 50 metres of the entrance. It will be in effect while polling is open and for half an hour before and afterwards, meaning from 6:30 am to 10:30 pm on Friday, 26 October 2018.

Read more about presidential elections and voting in a referendum.

Polling cards and voter identification

If you are registered to vote in the presidential election and referendum on 26 October 2018, you should have received a polling card at your home address .

Your polling card states your elector number and the name of the polling station where you are to vote. It will also have a formal statement explaining what the election and referendum are about.

If you haven’t received a polling card by 26 October, you can still vote at your local polling station as long as you are registered to vote. You can check this on checktheregister.ie.

You should bring a valid form of personal identification, such as your passport, driving licence, student card with photo etc., when you go to vote. Your polling card is not accepted as a valid form of ID. There is a full list on referendum.ie.

You can read more about voting in a referendum and about presidential  elections.

The Referendum Commission has published information about the referendum.

Voters with disabilities

There are several arrangements in place to enable people with certain disabilities to exercise their voting rights. Read about these arrangements in our document on facilities for voters with disabilities.

If you are blind or vision impaired, you can use a tactile ballot paper template to vote independently in the presidential election on 26 October 2018. You can use a separate ballot paper template to vote in the referendum on the same day. The templates will be available in all polling stations.

Find out more about these templates on ncbi.ie.

Consultation on a new National Digital Strategy

The Government has launched a public consultation to inform the development of a new National Digital Strategy. The consultation allows people to identify the priorities and issues they want addressed in the Strategy.

An information note (pdf) and a Questions and Answers Document (pdf) about the consultation are available.

You can make a submission by completing the consultation survey on taoiseach.gov.ie.

The consultation closes on 23 November 2018.

Know Your Rights: National Car Test (NCT)

Question

My car is due an NCT soon. Have the NCT rules changed recently?

Answer

Yes, recent changes to the National Car Test include how defects are classified and how vintage vehicles are treated.

All cars over 4 years old must take the NCT. If your car is liable for testing, it is an offence to drive your car without displaying a National Car Testing Service (NCTS) disc.

How regularly your car is tested depends on its age. The test must be repeated:

  • Every 2 years, if your car is over 4 years and less than 10 years old
  • Every year, if your car is over 10 years, but less than 30 years old
  • Every 2 years, if your car is between 30 and 39 years old and you are not using it for commercial purposes (this used to be every year)

Since 13 August 2018, defects identified during the NCT are classified as minor, major or dangerous.

Minor: the vehicle has passed the test with minor faults. These faults must be repaired and the car must be re-inspected by the NCTS before you can get an NCT certificate.

Major: (previously fail refusal): the vehicle has failed the test. You must get it repaired and have it re-inspected by the NCTS within 30 days. If it passes re-inspection, you will get an NCT certificate.

Dangerous: (previously fail dangerous): the vehicle has failed due to a dangerous defect that poses a direct or immediate risk to road safety. The NCTS will put a ‘failed dangerous’ sticker on it. It is illegal to drive a vehicle with a dangerous defect.

Know Your Rights: Grants for solar panels

Question

I heard that there is a new grant scheme for installing solar panels in your home. How does the scheme work and do I qualify?

Answer

The Solar PV scheme gives grants to install solar photovoltaic (PV) panels and a battery energy storage system at your home. This means you can generate and use renewable electricity in your home and reduce your electricity costs. The Solar PV scheme is a pilot scheme administered by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI).

To qualify for a grant you must:

  • Be the owner of a home built and occupied before 2011 (or a home constructed after 2011 that was built to the 2008 Building Regulations)
  • Use new materials and products that were not already covered under another grant programme
  • Use a registered contractor from the SEAI’s Renewable Installers Register for Solar PV
  • Have the electrical work completed by a Safe Electric Ireland electrician
  • Apply to be connected to the electricity distribution system using the ESB Networks NC6 form (pdf)
  • Have a Building Energy Rating (BER) carried out after the work is completed
  • Agree to participate in SEAI research about the scheme

The grant covers materials and labour, unless you are a contractor doing the work in your own home. In this case only the cost of the materials is covered.

When the SEAI payment system opens (in October 2018) you can claim your grant online and it will be paid directly into your bank account.

Know Your Rights: Maternity leave

Question

I am pregnant but I have only been working with my employer for a few weeks. Am I entitled to maternity leave?

Answer

If you are pregnant while in employment, you are entitled to maternity leave, regardless of how long you have been working for the organisation or the number of hours worked per week. You can also take additional unpaid maternity leave. The Maternity Protection Acts 1994 and 2004 provide your statutory minimum entitlements in relation to maternity at work, including maternity leave.

You are entitled to 26 weeks’ maternity leave. You can also take up to 16 weeks’ additional unpaid maternity leave, which begins immediately after the end of maternity leave.

Under the Maternity Protection (Amendment) Act 2004, you must take at least 2 weeks before the end of the week of your baby’s expected birth and at least 4 weeks after. You can decide how you would like to take the remaining weeks. Generally, employees take 2 weeks before the birth and the remaining weeks after. If you qualify for Maternity Benefit (see below) you must take at least 2 and no more than 16 weeks before the end of the week the baby is due.

Your entitlement to pay and superannuation during maternity leave depends on the terms of your contract of employment. Employers are not obliged to pay you if you are on maternity leave. You may qualify for Maternity Benefit from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection if you have enough PRSI contributions.

However, your contract with your employer could provide for additional rights to payment during the leave period, so that, for example, you could receive full pay less the amount of your Maternity Benefit.

Know your rights: Flu vaccine

Question

I’m thinking of getting the flu vaccine. Can you tell me about this vaccine?

Answer

Influenza, usually known as the flu, is highly infectious and anyone can get it. However some groups are at greater risk of complications if they get the flu. This includes people over the age of 65, pregnant women and people who have a chronic medical condition.

The flu vaccine can help protect you from getting the flu. The flu virus changes every year and this is why there is a new vaccine each year. Vaccination is strongly recommended if you:

  • Are aged 65 or over
  • Have a long-term medical condition, for example, diabetes or chronic heart, kidney, liver, lung or neurological disease
  • Have an impaired immune system due to disease or treatment
  • Have a body mass index (BMI) over 40
  • Are pregnant
  • Live in a nursing home or other long-stay institution
  • Are a carer or a healthcare worker
  • Have regular contact with poultry, water fowl or pigs

If you are aged 18 or over, you can get the vaccine from your GP (family doctor) or pharmacist. Children can get the vaccine from a GP.

The vaccine itself is free of charge if you are in one of the recommended groups. However, doctors and pharmacists may charge a consultation fee when they give you the vaccine.

If you have a medical card or GP visit card, you can get the vaccine without being charged a consultation fee.

You can read more about the flu and the vaccine on hse.ie.