Am I entitled to my leave day if it falls on a public holiday?

Friday February 14 2020


By Moses Ssesanga

If someone goes for annual leave say for 30 calendar days from June 1, to June 30, and it so happens that on a working day within that leave, falls a public holiday. Is the employee entitled to an extra day? Does the leave extend to July 01? Tonny Kirangwa, ACCA

Dear Tonny,
The right of employees to take leave and rest so as to re-charge and re-energise their mental and physical capabilities is closely protected by the law. Also when employees take leave and actually get to rest, their productivity and general wellbeing greatly improves.

The Employment Act of 2006 Section 54(1-3) states that an employee shall be entitled to a day’s holiday with full pay on every public holiday during his or her employment or, to a day’s holiday with full pay at the expense of the employer on some other day that would otherwise be a day of work, not a weekend which they are entitled to anyway.

What this means is that a public holiday is an entitlement for an employee to rest at the employer’s expense. Therefore, if the employee had an intervening public holiday during annual leave, they would automatically be entitled to another working day of paid leave.

Secondly, if the employee, due to the nature and demands of the business operations, happens to work on a public holiday, he or she is entitled to payment double the rate he or she would ordinarily receive during a normal working day.

The same section of the Act further prohibits the employer from entering into agreements with the employee for him or her to relinquish their right and forgo a public holiday; as such arrangements shall be null and void.


Finally, the law expressly prohibits the employer from constituting as fair reason for dismissal or for the imposition of a disciplinary penalty because the employee took, or proposed to take, any leave to which he or she was entitled under the law or contract and this includes the gazetted public holidays.

Moses Ssesanga
Head Human Resource
NMG - Uganda