The Intoxicating Liquor (Amendment) Act 2018 has ended the 90-year ban on the sale of alcohol on Good Friday in Ireland, which became an increasingly controversial topic in recent years.

Many licensed premises now remain open past midnight on the night before Good Friday. Hotels are now permitted to sell alcohol to guests at any time on a Good Friday, where previously the law stated that alcohol could only be served with a meal in a hotel on the religious holiday.

In addition to the boost in revenue for the hospitality sector, the removal of the ban has had a significant impact from an employment perspective. This is because employees who had previously enjoyed a day off on Good Friday can now be rostered to work in the normal course.

Status confusion

The status or treatment of Good Friday in employment terms can cause some degree of confusion. While banks, schools and many businesses including offices treat Good Friday as if it were a public holiday and close for the day and many employers offering employees a paid day off, employees and employers should be aware that Good Friday is not, in fact, a public holiday. Therefore, employees are not entitled to any particular benefit for working on Good Friday.

There are only nine public holidays in Ireland, namely;

  • New Year's Day
  • St. Patrick's Day
  • Easter Monday
  • First Monday in May, June, August
  • Last Monday in October
  • Christmas Day (25 December)
  • St. Stephen's Day (26 December)

Employees that work on a public holiday are entitled to receive:

  • A day off on that day
  • An additional day’s pay
  • An additional day of annual leave, or
  • A paid day off within a month of that day


What this means is that although many businesses will remain closed on Good Friday from 2018 onwards, employees in the hospitality sector who are required to work on this day are not legally entitled to receive any additional benefit. Employers should communicate this to employees early on to avoid any disgruntled staff.