A Guide to Parent’s Leave (2023)

Posted in : HR Updates ROI on 18 May 2023
Caroline Reidy
The HR Suite
Issues covered: Parent's Leave; Family Friendly Rights

The birth of a child is a magical time for parents but it can also be a stressful time managing a good work/life balance. Parent’s leave is a statutory entitlement for parents that was introduced by the Government in November 2019. The purpose of this is to enable working parents spend more time with their baby or adopted child. This is covered by the Parent’s Leave and Benefit Act 2019.

Since 1st July 2022, parent’s leave entitles each parent to 7 weeks’ leave during the first 2 years of a child’s life, or in the case of adoption, within 2 years of the placement of the child with the family. The leave period remains the same in the case of multiple births. The Parent’s Leave and Benefit Act 2019 (Extension of Periods of Leave) Order 2022 was introduced by Minister for Social Protection, Heather Humphreys, and Minister for Children, Roderic O'Gorman, after take-up of Parent's Leave and Benefit tripled since 2020. The Act aims to improve work-life balance within the family and the workforce.

Parent’s Benefit is available to employed and self-employed parents with the required number of social insurance (PRSI) contributions. Parent’s Benefit is paid at a rate of €262 a week. Seven weeks payment is now available for each parent, representing a payment of €1,834 per parent. There is no minimum service requirement before a person is eligible to avail of parent’s leave.

Announcing the measures in 2022, Heather Humphreys said, “I’m committed to working closely with my colleague, Minister O’Gorman, in delivering further increases in this support. Because by doing so, we will ensure that mothers and fathers who experience that special occasion of welcoming their child into the world, will know that their state supports them.”

Minister O'Gorman said, "We want to ensure that new parents are supported to spend quality time with their babies in those first weeks and months and be there to share special bonding moments. Since the formation of this government, we have increased Parent’s Leave and Benefit from two weeks to seven weeks, enabling tens of thousands of new parents to take time away from work knowing that they are financially supported."

Parent’s Leave can be taken in addition to existing Maternity Leave, Adoptive Leave, Paternity Leave, and Parental Leave, as applicable to each relevant parent. To avail of parents leave the employee must take it as one continuous period of seven’s week leave or separate periods of not less than one week. Parent’s leave cannot be transferred between parents – except in specified circumstances such as the death of one of the parents.

Employees must also give notice to the employer before they can take parents leave and the employee must give the notice in writing to inform the employer at least 6 weeks in advance before the leave is due to start.  The written notice should include the start date, the way the leave will be taken and how long it will last.  

Employers may request that employees provide evidence of their entitlement to Parent’s Leave, e.g., a copy of the child's birth certificate/adoption certificate.  Upon receiving a request, employers should confirm agreement of this no less than four weeks before commencement of the Parent’s Leave.

An employer can refuse a request only if there is no entitlement. An employer can postpone an employee’s Parent’s Leave for up to 12 weeks. An employer could postpone Parent’s Leave for the following reasons:

  • Seasonal variations in the volume of work
  • No replacement to carry out the work
  • The nature of the duties
  • The number of other employees also taking Parent’s Leave
  • Any other relevant matters

The eligibility period for Parent’s Leave (up to a child’s 2nd birthday) can only be extended for up to a maximum of 12 weeks in circumstances where an employer has rejected the original dates within the two-year period for business reasons. When making an application for Parent’s Leave and Parent's Benefit for dates outside of the two-year eligibility period, the employee must submit supporting documentation to include confirmation from the employer detailing the reason for the rejection of the original dates, and confirming the employer has agreed the revised dates with the employee.

It is important to note that Parent’s Leave is distinct from parental leave. Parental leave is an unpaid leave of 26 weeks that may be taken for each eligible child before their 12th birthday.

Employers should be aware that the Irish government plans to increase the duration of Parent’s Leave to nine weeks by August 2024, in line with new EU rules to improve the work-life balance of workers.

At the end of the period of Parent’s Leave, the employee is entitled to return to their normal job under the same terms and conditions. If this is not feasible, suitable alternative employment will be provided.

*****Check out Caroline's updated article on the topic: https://www.legal-island.ie/articles/ire/features/hr/2024/feb/parents-leave/****

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This article is correct at 18/05/2023

The information in this article is provided as part of Legal-Island's Employment Law Hub. We regret we are not able to respond to requests for specific legal or HR queries and recommend that professional advice is obtained before relying on information supplied anywhere within this article.

Caroline Reidy
The HR Suite

The main content of this article was provided by Caroline Reidy. Contact telephone number is +353 66 710 2887 / +353 86 775 2064 or email info@thehrsuite.com

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