Parental Leave

What am I entitled to?

Under the Parental Leave Act, the relevant parent is entitled to take up to 26 weeks of parental leave for each eligible child up to their 12th  birthday or 16th birthday in the case of a child with a disability. This is the minimum amount as set out in the legislation so you should check your company policy to see if there are enhanced arrangements in place.

You must have been working for your employer for at least a year to get the full amount of parental leave. If you do not have a full year of service and the child is near the age threshold, then you can avail of pro-rata leave if and you have been working for your employer for more than 3 months.

Is the leave paid?

This leave is unpaid and does not accrue state benefit, you should check your company policy to see if there are any arrangements in place for pay. Furthermore, the CWU has arranged in certain employments for the pay to be averaged out if you are taking parental leave in one block. Again, refer to your union representative or company policy for more information.

You can however get credited PRSI contributions while on parental leave if you qualify for same. Your employer arranges this by applying to the Department of Social Protection (DSP), setting out the weeks you have not worked, so that you can get credited PRSI contributions.

Who is the relevant parent?

This means you are either a parent, an adoptive parent, or a person acting in ‘loco parentis’ for the relevant eligible child.

How can I take the leave?

As stated, you must have been working for your employer for at least a year to get the full amount of parental leave. You can take this leave as:

  • One continuous period of leave or
  • 2 separate blocks of a minimum of 6 weeks each
  • If your employer consents, broken into working days and/or hours

There must be a gap of at least 10 weeks between the 2 periods of parental leave per child.

 How do I apply?

You must give your employer at least 6 weeks’ written notice before taking parental leave. This notice must contain the dates of the parental leave requested and the way you wish to take the leave, either in one continuous block or in blocks of at least 6 weeks.

Once you and your employer have agreed the dates of your parental leave you must both then sign what is known as a confirmation document or confirmation notice that sets out the dates and the way the leave is to be taken. Once the confirmation document has been signed, it cannot be amended without the permission of you the applicant and the employer.

Can I take Parental Leave as individual days?

If you wish to break up your parental leave to individual days or hours, you will need to agree this with your employer.

What if I have more than one child within the age bracket?

Parental leave is limited to 26 weeks in a 12-month period however, this may be extended with the agreement of the employer. Parents of twins or other multiple births can take more than 26 weeks of parental leave in a year.

 Can I share my parental leave with my partner?

No, because both parents have an equal entitlement to 26 weeks parental leave. The only exception is if you both work for the same employer and if your employer agrees, you can transfer a maximum of 14 weeks of your parental leave entitlement to the other parent.

 Can my employer refuse to give me parental leave?

No, unless they believe that you are not entitled to the leave. The employer may not cancel the leave either once you have commenced it unless they believe you are using the leave for another reason other than childcare. You have the right of appeal in this situation and can get further advice from your union representative.

Can my employer postpone my parental leave request?

Your employer can postpone your parental leave for a maximum of 6 months. The reasons for postponement can include lack of cover while you are on leave or there are numbers of other employees already on parental leave for the requested time.

Normally parental leave may only be postponed once. However, your leave may be postponed twice if the reason is seasonal variations in the volume of work.

It is important to note that leave cannot be postponed once the confirmation notice has been signed. If you agree to the postponement and the confirmation notice has been signed, then a further confirmation notice would need to be drawn up. Your employer should also consult with you before postponing the leave.

Can I postpone my parental leave if I become sick?

If you get sick while on parental leave and are unable to care for your child, then you can suspend or postpone the leave. To do so, you must provide your employer with a written notice and evidence of your illness such as a medical cert as soon as is reasonable. You will then be placed on sick leave, and you can resume the parental leave after the illness.

What are my employment rights while on leave?

Your employment rights except for pay and superannuation (pension contributions) are maintained, and you are entitled to return to the same job after taking parental leave unless it is not reasonably practicable for your employer to allow you to do so. Accordingly, you must be offered a suitable alternative position with no less favourable conditions that those previously held before you went on parental leave.

You are also entitled to any improvements in pay or other conditions which occurred while you were on parental leave.

Your annual leave will continue to accrue while on parental leave as well as your entitlement to any public holidays that may fall during your period of parental leave.

Can I look for flexible working arrangements after my parental leave ends?

Yes, you have the legal right to request changes to your working hours or patterns when your parental leave comes to an end.  That said your employer does not have to agree to this. The employer is required to give serious consideration to your request and give you a response within 4 weeks setting on the reasons for a refusal. You should seek the assistance of your union representative in these situations.

What other types of leave am I entitled to as a parent?

This following table from Citizen’s Information explains the differences between the types of leave for parents.

Leave Who gets it? How long? Is it paid?
Maternity leave Female employees 26 weeks and up to 16 unpaid weeks Yes, Maternity Benefit is paid for 26 weeks
Adoptive leave One parent of the adoptive couple, or a parent adopting alone 24 weeks and up to 16 unpaid weeks Yes, Adoptive Benefit is paid for 24 weeks
Paternity leave New parents of children under 6 months of age (usually the father or the partner of the mother, or in the case of adoption, the parent who is not taking adoptive leave) 2 weeks Yes, Paternity Benefit is paid for 2 weeks
Parental leave Parents and guardians of children under 12 26 weeks No, it’s unpaid
Parent’s leave Parents of children under 2 years of age

Parents of adopted children in the first 2 years of the placement of the child

7 weeks from 1 July 2022 Yes, Parent’s Benefit is paid for 7 weeks