Your entitlement in Irish law
UPDATE 1ST SEPTEMBER 2020
From 1st September 2020 unpaid parental leave has been increased from 22 weeks to 26 weeks per parent per child under 12 years, or 16 where the child has a disability.
Parental leave in Ireland is covered by the Parental Leave Act 1998, as amended by the Parental leave (amendment) Act 2006 as well as The European Union (Parental Leave) Regulations 2013.
Parents , including those in loco parentis can take parental leave in respect of certain children.
Leave can be taken in respect of a child aged up to 8 years of age. If a child was adopted, leave may be taken up to 2 years after the date of the adoption order. Leave may be taken for a child with a disability or long term illness up to 16 years of age. Exceptions may be made in the case of illness or incapacity of the parent preventing the parent from availing of the parental leave.
How much leave can a parent take?
Since the coming into effect of The European Union (Parental Leave) Regulations 2013 a parent can take a total of 18 working weeks of parental leave per eligible child. This is limited to 18 weeks in a 12 month period, where an employee has more than one child.
You can take the leave as follows:
one continuous period of 18 weeks, or two blocks of a minimum of 6 weeks, with a gap of at least 10 weeks between the periods.
With the agreement of the employer parental leave can be broken into periods of any agreed amount.
Each parent has a separate individual entitlement to parental leave.
Where both parents work for the same employer,and the employer agrees, 14 weeks of parental leave may be transferred from one parent for use by the other.
Are my employment rights affected?
You lose pay and are not entitled to benefits, while on parental leave. Your employment rights are not affected. You are treated as if you are still in employment. The time counts for annual leave and public holiday calculation. You can get credited PRSI contributions. Your employer must notify the Department of Social Protection of the dates you have not worked.
How do I qualify for parental under Irish law?
You must have been in your current employment for at least a year.
An employer may postpone the leave for up to six months on certain reasonable grounds. Only one postponement is usually allowed, except in cases of seasonal variations in the volume of work.
You can only use parental leave to take care of the child in question.
You are entitled to return to your old job, unless it is not reasonably practicable. You must be offered a job of similar status and terms and conditions of employment.
You are protected from unfair dismissal.
You can ask for a change in work pattern or working hours for a set period, although the employer is not obliged to facilitate such request.
If the employee becomes so ill during the parental leave that they can no longer care for the child, they can have the leave suspended. Written notice and proper evidence of the illnes is required. The leave resumes after the illness .
You must give at least 6 weeks written notice of your intention to take parental leave. This should give the starting date and the amount of leave being taken. 4 weeks before commencement of the leave you must sign a document with your employer confirming the details of the leave.
In the event of a dispute you can refer the matter to the Workplace Relations Commission, within six months of the dispute arising.
Guide to the Parental Leave Acts, Download here
See also Paternity leave
See also Paid paternity leave
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