As a general rule, private sector workers cannot be required to work on statutory public holidays, but they nevertheless remain entitled to receive their normal pay for those days. There are ten public holidays, and their dates plus the dates of the replacement days awarded for them must be set out in the works rules.
NB! Employers should make sure that the employee time sheets submitted to their payroll and HR services bureau state the precise dates of the 10 public holidays (or replacement days for them) awarded to their workers.
On what dates do the statutory public holidays fall in 2021?
The dates of the public holidays in 2021 are:
- New Year’s Day: Friday, 1 January
- Easter Monday: Monday, 5 April
- Labour Day: Saturday, 1 May
- Ascension: Thursday, 13 May
- Whit Monday: Monday, 24 May
- National Day: Wednesday, 21 July
- Assumption: Sunday, 15 August
- All Saints’ Day: Monday, 1 November
- Armistice Day: Thursday, 11 November
- Christmas Day: Saturday, 25 December
What if a public holiday falls on a Sunday or a normal non-working day for the business?
A public holiday which falls on a Sunday or a normal non-working day for the business must be replaced by a normal working day. The replacement day may be awarded either before or after the public holiday but must fall in the same calendar year so as to ensure ten days off a year.
1. The normal non-working day may be any day of the week other than a Sunday and need not be the same day for all workers in the same business.
2. The replacement day is treated as a public holiday for the workers employed in the business.
A specific procedure must be followed for replacing public holidays that fall on a Sunday or normal non-working day. The replacement day may be fixed by:
- decision of the joint body (joint bargaining committee or sub-committee) made mandatory by royal decree (statutory instrument);
- a decision of the works council (if no decision is taken by the joint body);
- an agreement between the employer and the shop stewards’ committee (if there is no works council or it does not take a decision);
- a collective agreement between the employer and all employees (if there is no shop stewards’ committee);
- agreement between the employer and each individual worker (if there is no collective agreement).
If there is no agreement in any of the above forms, the public holiday will be replaced by the first normal working day worked by the business after the public holiday.
The employer must post a dated and signed notice on company premises before 15 December each year stating:
- the replacement day(s) replacing the public holiday(s) in the following year, set as described above;
- the rules for applying time off in lieu for those working a public holiday.
A copy of the notice must be annexed to the works rules.