A summary of the Parental Leave Act 1998 is contained in this document.
The Parental Leave Act, 1998
The Parental Leave Act 1998, as amended by the Parental Leave (Amendment) Act 2006, allows parents in Ireland to take parental leave from employment in respect of certain children. A person acting in loco parentis with respect to an eligible child is also eligible.
Since 18 May 2006, leave can be taken in respect of children up to eight years of age (was five years). The upper age limit can be extended in circumstances where an adopted child is involved. In the case of a child with a disability leave may be taken up to 16 years of age. In addition an extension may also be allowed where illness or other incapacity prevented the employee taking the leave within the normal period.
Parental leave is available for each child and amounts to 14 weeks per child. Leave is limited to 14 weeks per 12-month period where an individual has more than one child but can be longer if the employer agrees.
The 14 weeks per child may be taken in one continuous period or in separate blocks of a minimum of six weeks. If your employer agrees you can separate your leave into periods of days or even hours.
If the parent becomes ill while on parental leave and is unable to care for the child the leave can be suspended for the duration of the illness. The parental leave resumes after the illness. During the illness the parent is treated as an employee who is sick.
Both parents have an equal separate entitlement to parental leave. Unless you and your partner work for the same employer, you can only claim your own parental leave entitlement (14 weeks per child). If you both work for the same employer and your employer agrees you may transfer your parental leave entitlement to each other.
You are not entitled to pay from your employer while you are on parental leave nor are you entitled to any social welfare payment equivalent to Maternity Benefit or Adoptive Benefit.
Taking parental leave does not affect other employment rights you have. Apart from the loss of wages, your position remains as if no parental leave had been taken. This means, for example, that time spent on parental leave can be used to accumulate your annual leave entitlement. If your annual holidays fall due during parental leave, they may be taken at a later time. A public holiday that falls during parental leave and on a day when you would normally be working is added to your period of leave.
Social Insurance Contributions
The Minister for Social and Family Affairs has introduced Regulations to ensure preservation of social insurance (PRSI) records for employees who avail of parental leave. In such circumstances, employees should contact the Department of Social and Family Affairs (see contact information under 'Where to apply') to ensure that appropriate credits are made.
Annual Leave, Public Holidays and Parental Leave
While on parental leave, you must be regarded for employment rights purposes as still working. This means that you may build up annual leave while on parental leave. Your employer then grants annual leave in accordance with Section 20 of the Organisation of Working Time Act, 1997
Where a public holiday falls on a day when you are on parental leave, you may avail of time off for the public holiday at the end of your parental leave.
Generally you must have been working for the new employer for a year before you are entitled to parental leave. However if your child is very near the age threshold and you have been working for the new employer for more than three months but less than 1 year you are entitled to pro-rata parental leave. This is one week's leave for every month of employment completed.
If you change job and have used part of your parental leave allowance you can use the remainder after one year's employment with your new employer provided your child is still under the qualifying age
You must give written notice to your employer of your intention to take parental leave. You should inform your employer in writing at least six weeks before the leave is due to start. The notice should state the starting date and how long the leave will last. After this not less than four weeks before the leave is due to start, you will need to sign a document with your employer confirming the details of the leave.
Apart from a refusal on the grounds on non-entitlement, an employer may also postpone the leave for up to 6 months. This must be done before the confirmation document is signed. Grounds for such a postponement include lack of cover or the fact that other employees are already on parental leave. Normally only one postponement is allowed.
Employers must keep records of all parental leave taken by their employees. These records must include the period of employment of each employee and the dates and times of the leave taken. Employers must keep these records for 8 years. If an employer fails to keep records they may be liable to a fine of up to 2000 euro.
You are entitled to return to your job after your parental leave unless it is not reasonably practicable for the employer to allow you to return to your old job. If this is the case you must be offered a suitable alternative on terms no less favourable compared with the previous job including any improvement in pay or other conditions which occurred while you were on parental leave
Where to apply For further information on the preservation of social insurance records during parental leave, contact:
Department of Social and Family Affairs Records Section, Gandon House Amiens Street Dublin 1 Tel: (01) 704 3000
For more information on parental leave you can contact:
The Equality Authority, Clonmel St Dublin 2 Tel: (01) 4173333 Lo-call: 1890 245545