Senator Marie Sherlock’s call for public holiday on Good Friday ‘could hit productivity’, department warns

Labour senator Marie Sherlock called for Good Friday to become a permanent public holiday for all workers. Photo: Damien Storan

Anne-Marie Walsh

Making Good Friday a public holiday could adversely affect employer costs, productivity and effectiveness, a government department has warned.

The Department of Enterprise said any proposal to roll out another public holiday would require “very careful consideration”.

It cited additional costs this would impose on employers.

The department was responding after senator Marie Sherlock, Labour’s workers’ rights spokesperson, said Good Friday must become a permanent public holiday for all workers.

“The situation as it stands is deeply unfair for workers,” she said. “There is always confusion among workers as to whether Good Friday counts as a public holiday.”

She said some employers treat Good Friday as a discretionary day.

However, most workers in retail, tourism and hospitality fail to benefit.

“It’s deeply unfair that some workers benefit due to the benevolence of their employer, while others do not,” Ms Sherlock said. “Extra public holidays are just one way of improving life for workers in Ireland.

“The introduction of the new public holiday in February was welcome, but we need to look across the economy as a whole and ensure it’s fair for all.”

The department spokesperson said Good Friday is a discretionary day for employers. Easter Monday is a public holiday on which employees are entitled to increased pay, a paid day’s leave or a combination of the two.

The Organisation of Working Time Act provides that certain days may be prescribed as public holidays.

There are 10 public holidays, which recently rose from nine with the addition of St Brigid’s Day.

“An extra public holiday has implications of a broad nature in terms of costs, productivity and its effect on competitiveness,” the spokesperson said. “Any proposal for another public holiday would require very careful consideration, including on the additional costs this would impose on employers.”

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