Carer's leave

Carer's Leave legislation

The Carer's Leave Act, 2001 provides employees with an entitlement to avail of up to 104 weeks of temporary unpaid leave. This leave is of up to 104 weeks to enable them to care for a relevant person (close relative or friend) who has been objectively assessed by the Department of Social Protection as needing full-time care and attention.  

The Act does allow for an employer and employee to agree more favourable terms to the employee than those provided for under the Act. 

Carer's leave for public service workers Q&A

  • Carer's leave is unpaid. However, under the Carer's Benefit Scheme, employees who meet the eligibility requirements are entitled to a Carer's Benefit. This is payable by the Department of Social Protection.  
    While on Carer's leave, an employee is entitled to work for up to 18.5 hours per week. 

  • Disputes arising in relation to whether the person to be cared for is a relevant person and/or whether an employee is providing full-time care and attention can only be referred to The Department of Social Protection. 
    Disputes in relation to any other entitlement under the Act can be referred to the Adjudication Service of the WRC, with a right of appeal to the Labour Court. 

  • When carer's leave has expired, you have the right to return to the same job you held immediately before the commencement of the leave, under the same contract of employment. If this is not reasonably practicable, you have the right to suitable alternative work under a new contract of employment. The terms and conditions of this contract must not be substantially less favourable than those which you had immediately prior to the period of leave. If a new contract is required, this does not affect the employee’s continuity of service.

  • Your employer must be provided with at least six weeks' written notice which must state:   

    • your proposal to take carer’s leave
    • the date you propose to start this leave and how you propose to take it
    • that an application has been made to the Minister for Social Protection for a decision that the person to be cared for is a ‘relevant person’ (in need of full-time care and attention), or, where appropriate, that the decision of a deciding officer is under appeal.

    You are allowed to give less than six weeks' notice, where in 'exceptional or emergency circumstances' it is 'not reasonably practicable' to do so.  In such a case, notice must be given as soon as is 'reasonably practicable. 

  • Generally, the leave terminates on the date specified in the confirmation document.  However, there are other circumstances under which carer's leave may be terminated, e.g. 

    • on another date agreed between the employer and employee;  
    • when the employee no longer provides full-time care and attention to the relevant person, e.g. where another person begins to provide full-time care and attention to the relevant person.
    • where a Deciding Officer/Appeals Officer decides that either the employee or the person being cared for does not satisfy the conditions for requiring or providing full-time care and attention.
    • where the person being cared for dies, the leave will terminate either 6 weeks after the date of death, or the date that is specified in the confirmation document, whichever is the earliest.


  • For each ‘relevant person’, carer's leave may be taken in a continuous period of 104 weeks, or in a number of separate periods, not exceeding 104 weeks in total.   

    Your employer has the right to refuse to grant carer's leave for a period of less than 13 weeks, 'on reasonable grounds'.  However, your employer must specify in writing to you the grounds for their refusal.  If you are not satisfied with their reasons, you have the right to appeal to the Adjudication Service of the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC). 
    If the leave is taken in separate periods, there must be a gap of at least 6 weeks between the periods of leave. for a particular relevant person. 

    The Act does, however, allow for employer and employee to agree more favourable terms to the employee than those provided for under the Act. 


  • You must give written notification to your employer at least four weeks before you are due to return to work stating your intention to return to work. 

  • While on carer's leave you are regarded as still being in employment, and therefore, all of your employment rights are unaffected by the leave (with the exception of the right to pay, certain annual leave, certain public holidays, superannuation benefits, etc.) 
    Employees on carer's leave only accrue an entitlement to annual leave and public holidays during the first 13 weeks of leave for each and any relevant person’ in their care. 
    Carer's leave cannot be treated as part of any other leave to which you are entitled, including annual leave, sick leave, adoptive leave, maternity leave, parental leave and force majeure leave. 

  • You must have completed 12 months continuous employment with your current employer before commencing the leave.

  • In general, an employee is entitled to a maximum period of 104 weeks of carer's leave to care for any one relevant person, at any one time. They are therefore not entitled to carer's leave for the care of two or more relevant persons at any one time. 

    The exception to the above, is where two relevant persons reside together.  In such a case an employee who is already on carer's for the care of one person, may avail of carer's leave for the care of a second person, provided they both reside together.  This exception can only apply once.  

    The total amount of carer's leave where two relevant persons reside together must not exceed 208 weeks, i.e. 104 weeks for each relevant person. The commencement date of leave in respect of the second relevant person will be the date on which the employee has been notified by the Department of Social Protection Deciding Officer that this person requires full time care and attention. 

  • There must be six months between the end of a period of carer's leave in respect of one person being cared for and the start of carer's leave in respect of a second person (except in the case of two ‘relevant persons’ who reside together). More information on entitlements for those caring for more than one person in the same residence is outline under as described in section 'Leave in respect of more than one person'.  

  • At least two weeks before the leave is due to commence, and where an employee has given the employer the Deciding Officer's decision that full-time care is required, the 'confirmation document' must be prepared and signed by both the employee and employer. This document specifies the date of commencement of the leave, its duration, and how it is to be taken.

    Before the confirmation document has been signed, an employee is entitled to revoke the notice of their intention to take carer's leave. 
    Once the confirmation document has been signed the employee is entitled to take carer's leave at the specified time. 
    After the confirmation document has been signed, both parties can agree to change the arrangements and a new confirmation document setting out the revised arrangements can be drawn up. However, the employer is not obliged to change the arrangements. 

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