Parental Leave

Parental leave entitlement was increased earlier this year to 18 weeks per child and is available as a statutory entitlement to eligible parents in the workplace. Find out more about parental leave entitlements and how you manage the impact of such leave in your business as well as avoiding problems by failing to adhere to the statutory regulations in this area.

Parental Leave Entitlement

Under the Parental Leave Acts 1998 – 2006 and the European Union (Parental Leave) Regulations 2013, parents who have worked for their employer for 12 months are allowed to take 18 weeks unpaid parental leave from employment to care for children up to the age of 8 years. If a child was adopted between the ages of 6 and 8, parental leave may be taken up to 2 years after the date of the adoption order and in the case of a child with a disability or a long term illness parental leave may be taken up to the age of 16 years.

Employees who have children near the age thresholds and who have been working for their employer for less than one year but more than three months are entitled to a pro-rated amount of parental leave of one weeks leave for every month of employment completed.

Amount of Parental Leave

The maximum amount of leave available per child is 18 weeks. Employees who have more than one child may only take 18 weeks parental leave in a 12 month period.This does not apply to employees who have children from a multiple birth who may avail of more than 18 weeks in a year.

How Parental Leave May Be Taken

Parental leave entitlement may be taken in one continuous period or in two separate blocks of a minimum of 6 weeks and there must be a gap of at least 10 weeks between any 2 periods of parental leave per child. Employers at their discretion may agree with their employees alternative ways of taking parental leave entitlements such as a number of days or hours per week.

Parental leave must be applied for in writing at least 6 weeks in advance of intended commencement date and once agreed in writing may not be postponed without further written agreement of the parties.

Employers have the right to postpone parental leave once for up to 6 months for reasons such as other employees being on parental leave. One further postponement is only allowed due to seasonal variations in the work being carried out.

Employment Rights on Parental Leave

All employment rights other than pay and pension contributions remain intact during periods of parental leave including the accrual of annual leave and public holiday entitlement.

Employees are entitled to return to their normal position after parental leave unless it is not reasonably practical to do so. In this case, a suitable alternative on terms and conditions no less favorable than the previous position held must be available.