What is Carer’s Leave?
The purpose of carer’s leave is to provide you with leave from work to provide full-time care for someone who needs it. This is governed by the Carer’s Leave Act, 2001.
You can take carer’s leave for a minimum of 13 weeks up to a maximum of 104 weeks. Anything less than the 13 weeks must be agreed with the employer.
If you do not take carer’s leave in one continuous period, there must be a gap of at least 6 weeks between each period of carer’s leave.
The leave is unpaid but as it is statutory leave your position will be kept until you return from work or if this is not feasible then a suitable alternative must be found with no less favourable conditions.
Is there any pay available for carer’s leave?
If you have enough PRSI contributions, you may qualify for Carer’s Benefit. If you cannot get Carer’s Benefit, you may qualify for Carer’s Allowance which is a means-tested payment.
If I don’t quality for these payments, am I still entitled to carer’s leave?
Yes, and this is a common misconception. You can take carer’s leave even if you do not qualify for these payments.
Who can take carer’s leave?
First, you must you have 12 month’s service without a break in your employment.
The person you will be caring for must be in need full-time care and a deciding officer of the Department of Social Protection (DSP) will decide whether they need this care after consulting with their GP.
The nature of full-time care and attention is for the purposes of either:
- Keeping the individual safe and to aid with day-to-day tasks such as feeding, washing, and dressing
- Protecting the person from being a danger to themselves
Do I have to be related to the person in need of care to take the leave?
No, the person that needs care does not have to be a spouse or a family member. It can be a friend or colleague if you meet the previously outlined criteria.
Can I care for more than one person at a time?
If 2 people live together and both need full-time care, then you can get carer’s leave for each of them to a maximum of 208 weeks, i.e., 104 weeks for each person in your care. Once the carer’s leave is finished you must nonetheless wait 6 months before you can get carer’s leave for another person.
Are my employment rights maintained while on care?
Except for pay, all your employment rights are maintained, and you must be treated as if you never left work. Again, your position will be kept until you return from work or if this is not feasible then a suitable alternative must be found with no less favourable conditions.
Also please note the following:
- You Are entitled to annual leave and public holidays for the first 13 weeks of carer’s leave
- You cannot be dismissed for taking carer’s leave
- Your employer cannot treat you unfairly while on carer’s leave for example, giving you worse conditions of employment or selecting you for redundancy
How do I apply for carer’s leave?
There are two steps to the application process:
- Apply through the DSP by completing the application form for Carer’s Benefit (pdf). The DSP will confirm that the person needs full-time care. Both the GP and your employer must fill out part of the form. The DSP will determine if the person needs full-time care and attention, following the advice of the GP and will also decide if you qualify for Carer’s Benefit. You are also entitled to appeal the decision of the DSP if the determine the person does not need full-time care.
- Apply formally in writing to your employer at least 6 weeks before you plan to take carer’s leave. This notice maybe waived in emergency situations; however, you should still give notice as soon as possible.
Your application letter you must state:
- Your intention to take carer’s leave and the date you want to start the leave
- The way you intend to take this leave i.e., in one block or broken up
- You have applied to the DSP to confirm that the person needs full-time care and attention
You and your employer must sign a confirmation document with the arrangements for carer’s leave at least 2 weeks before you begin the leave. You should retain a copy of this document
Where can I get more information?
You may contact your local Intreo Centre or Social Welfare Branch Office or the Carer’s Benefit Section of the DSP.