The concept of Parent’s Leave was introduced in The Parent’s Leave and Benefit Act 2019. Before the Act was introduced, parents had to rely on Parental Leave as the basis for taking time off to look after young children after the paternity/maternity/adoptive leave period expired.
Although the intention in both Parent’s Leave and Parental Leave is broadly similar the leave entitlements are different. The key difference is that Parent’s Leave is paid by the State whereas Parental Leave is unpaid.
Currently in Ireland it is not usual for employers to cover the pay for employees for either leave but some companies do have contractual policies to support paid leave for parents.
We set out below the key legislative differences for each leave:
- Parent’s leave applies to parents of a child born or, if adopted, placed, after 1 November 2019
- Currently amounts to two weeks’ leave to be taken within the child’s first year of life or placement
- Legislation to be implemented in 2021 to expand leave to five weeks and to amend the period within which it may be taken to the first two years of life/placement
- Currently, Parent’s leave can be taken as a one continuous period of two weeks or separate periods of not less than one week
- The entitlement to Parent’s leave cannot be transferred between parents except for in exceptional circumstances, such as the death of a parent
- An employer may, with consultation and notice to the employee, postpone the request to take the leave for a period of twelve weeks
- The leave period remains the same even in the case of multiple births/placements
- Parent’s leave is unpaid by an employer, but parent’s benefit is payable for the period
- Entitlement to parent’s benefit, i.e. paid leave is dependent upon PRSI contributions and is currently paid at a rate of €245 per week by the Department of Social Protection
- Relevant legislation dealing with parental leave is the Parental Leave Acts 1998 to 2019
- Applies to parents/adoptive parent/person acting in loco parentis of a child under twelve years old or sixteen if the child has a disability
- An employee is entitled to take 26 weeks leave per child
- An employee must have one years’ continuous service with their employer or at least three months’ service where the entitlement to take the leave is expiring
- Leave can be taken as one continuous period or, separate blocks of a minimum of six weeks each, or, as agreed with the employer
- An employer may, with consultation and notice to the employee, postpone the request to take the leave for a period of six months
- Parental leave is not paid by the employer and there is no entitlement to benefit from the Department of Social Protection
Employers should review their policies and ensure that their employees are aware of how to access these entitlements and the process to follow. An employer is required to keep records of the leave taken and should be prepared to amend their policies when the Parent’s Leave entitlement is extended later this year.
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About the Authors
Anne is a partner in the Employment team at Hayes solicitors. She has considerable experience advising and representing employers and employees on all aspects of the employment relationship from pre-employment matters to termination.
Mary Gavin is an associate in the Employment Law team at Hayes Solicitors. She has extensive expertise in all areas of employment law, providing advice to both employees and employers.