Following a number of discussions and much speculation the Government has just yesterday, January 19th, 2022, made the long-awaited announcement of additional public holidays.
Once-off Public Holiday
The first announcement outlined the provision of a once-off public holiday which will take place on Friday March 18, 2022. According to the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Leo Varadkar, the designation of this once-off public holiday is in recognition of the efforts of the general public, volunteers and all workers throughout the Covid pandemic. The Tánaiste outlined that following the new public holiday a “Day of Remembrance and Recognition, will be held in memory of the more than 9,000 people who have died on the island of Ireland with COVID”, which is set to take place over St. Patrick’s weekend.
New Public Holiday
Included in the announcement was a permanent and additional public holiday which will commence next year in 2023. This additional public holiday will take place on the first Monday of February each year, except where the 1st of February falls on a Friday in which case the public holiday will be observed on the Friday.
The power to introduce additional public holidays is provided under the second schedule of the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997, which is under policy remit of the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment.
Employers must now ensure that are familiar with the provisions of the Act in determining the benefits that will apply to the additional public holidays which can vary depending on whether an Employee works full time or part time.
The final announcement made by the Tánaiste related to the provision of a recognition payment in the amount of €1,000. The payment will be applied to eligible frontline health and ambulance workers and limited to those employees ordinarily onsite in Covid exposed healthcare environments.
Yesterday’s announcement will be welcomed by most and is just the beginning of changes set to be introduced by Government with the Tánaiste referencing his Departments commitment to establishing this year: the right to statutory sick pay, the right to request remote working, new rights around redundancy for works laid off during the pandemic and better protection of workplace gratuities/ tips.