Parent's Leave

Posted in : HR Updates ROI on 20 February 2024
Caroline Reidy
The HR Suite
Issues covered: Parent's Leave, Parental Leave

As one embarks on the journey of parenthood, support and resources become invaluable companions. In Ireland, parents are met with a robust framework of assistance, notably exemplified by the provision of Parent’s Leave. This foundational support reflects Ireland’s dedication to nurturing families and ensuring the well-being on both parents and children.

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. This is being extended by 2 weeks to 9 weeks from August 2024. The leave period remains the same in the case of multiple births i.e. in the case of twins or the adoption of multiple children at the same time. Parent’s leave is available to both employees and people who are self-employed.

New parents are also eligible for a payment called Parent’s Benefit while they are on parent’s leave should they have the requisite PRSI contributions. If you are self-employed, you should apply directly to the Department of Social Protection for Parent’s Benefit at least 6 weeks before you intend to take parent’s leave. Note that the employer is not required to pay the employee while they are on parent’s leave, although it is common for some employers to ‘top-up’ an employee’s parent’s leave. The weekly payment for Parent’s Benefit is currently €274 per week.

What’s the difference between Parent’s and Parental Leave?

Parent’s Leave is not to be confused with Parental Leave which is another form of support offered to parents here in Ireland. Despite their similar names, they actually offer vastly different benefits.

Parental Leave is offered to parents and guardians of children under 12 or up to the age of 16 years for a child with a disability. It entitles parents to take unpaid leave of up to 26 weeks (for each eligible child) to spend time looking after their children. This leave can be taken as either one continuous period or in 2 separate blocks that are at least 6 weeks each. There must also be a gap of at least 10 weeks between the two periods of paternal leave per child.

This differs compared to Parent’s Leave which, as mentioned earlier is specifically for parents during the child’s first 2 years. This can be taken in one continuous 7-week period or in multiple different periods of greater than one week each.

Furthermore, while under normal circumstances both parents have an equal separate entitlement to both parental leave and parent’s leave, if they both work for the same employer they can, with the employer’s permission, transfer 14 weeks of their parental leave entitlement to the other parent. This transferral of weeks is not possible for parent’s leave.

Who is Eligible for Parent’s Leave?

As per the Parent’s Leave and Benefit Act 2019, there are certain criteria that an employee must meet to be eligible to take parent’s leave. They must:

1. Be a relevant parent. People who are considered relevant parents are as follows:

  • A parent of the child
  • A spouse, civil partner or cohabitant of the parent of the child
  • A parent of a donor-conceived child as provided under section 5 of the Children and Family Relationships Act 2015
  • The adopting parent or parents of a child
  • The spouse or civil partner of the adopting parent of the child (if the parents have not adopted jointly)

2. Take the leave within 104 weeks (2 years) of the birth of the child or in the case of adoption, from the date the child is placed with them (the placement date)

3. Give at least 6 weeks’ notice to their employer

This only refers to an employee’s minimum legal entitlement to parent’s leave. The employer may offer more rights in the contract of employment.

Other Rules for Parent’s Leave

  • The employee is treated as being in employment while they are on parent’s leave (and all other types of statutory leave for parents including parental leave). They are entitled to return to their job after parent’s leave.
  • Annual Leave – The employee will accrue annual leave while they are on parent’s leave.
  • Public Holidays – The employee will also accrue any public holidays that occur during their parent’s leave.
  • PRSI Contributions – The employee can get credited PRSI contributions while they are on parent’s leave.

Can a Parent’s Leave application be refused?

As an employer, you can only refuse parent’s leave if the employee is not entitled to it. You can, however, postpone the employee’s parent’s leave for up to 12 weeks for the following reasons:

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

If a postponement of an employee’s parent’s leave takes them past the 2-year eligibility period, the period can be extended as long as the dates originally requested are within the 2-year period and the supporting documentation is submitted confirming these dates and the reason for rejection.

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This article is correct at 20/02/2024

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

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