Parental leave

Parental Leave legislation

The Parental Leave Act 1998-2006 and the European Union (Parental Leave) Regulations 2013 provide parental leave and force majeure leave entitlements.  

Under the Parental Leave (Amendment) Act 2019 the unpaid parental leave entitlement is 26 weeks as of 1 September 2020. 

The upper age limit of a child for which parental leave may be taken is twelve years of age. 

Public health service employees are entitled to take parental leave in respect of children up to the age of 16 years from 26 September 2023. 

If both parents are employed by the same employer one parent may transfer up to 14 weeks of their parental leave to the other but this is subject to the employer’s agreement. 

Parental Leave Q&A

  • To qualify for the maximum parental leave, you must have completed 12 months continuous employment with the same employer. Before starting parental leave 

    Where your child is approaching the upper age limit and you have more than three months but less than one year's service, there is provision for pro-rata parental leave, i.e. one week's leave for each month's continuous service with the employer before the leave commences. 

  • At least four weeks before the leave is due to commence, the confirmation document' specifying the date of commencement of the leave, its duration and how it is to be taken, must be prepared and signed by both you and your employer. 

    Once the 'confirmation document' has been signed, you are entitled to take parental 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 must be drawn up.  However, the employer is not obliged to change the arrangements. 

  • Under the legislation, your employer is not obliged to pay you in respect of parental leave. 

  • In the case of multiple births, this restriction does not apply, and each parent is entitled to 26 weeks parental leave for each child. For example, each parent would be entitled to 52 weeks parental leave in the case of twins, and 78 weeks in the case of triplets, etc.  

  • Employees retain an entitlement to any public holidays falling during a period of parental leave.  The Act provides that a corresponding number of days in lieu of public holidays should be added to the end of the period of the leave.

  • Where an employer believes that the parental leave is not being used to take care of the child concerned, parental can be terminated.  The employer, however, must give you written notice in advance of the termination of leave. 

  • The Parental Leave Acts 1998-2006 and the European Union (Parental Leave) Regulations 2013, states that parents, except in multiple birth cases, are not entitled to more than 26 weeks leave in any 12-month period, unless it is with the agreement of the employer. 

  • After parental leave, you are entitled to return to the same job under the same contract of employment, terms and conditions you held before the commencement of your leave. 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 which must not be substantially less favourable than those which you had immediately prior to the commencement of the leave. 

  • Parental leave may be taken in a continuous period of 26 weeks.  There is a statutory entitlement to take the 26 weeks in separate blocks of a minimum of six continuous weeks. 

    Alternatively, subject to the agreement of your employer, parental leave may be taken in reduced hours. 

    If the leave is to be taken in separate blocks or in reduced hours the total number of hours leave to which you are entitled is determined by the number of hours worked by you during a particular period of 26 continuous weeks. There are two ways of calculating the entitlement - one where you and your employer agree on a reference period and the other where a reference period cannot be agreed. 

  • If you are employed in a job-sharing or part-time capacity you are still entitled to a continuous period of 26 weeks parental leave, however, this period includes weeks off / days off. 

  • Share this page

    Contact INMO

    Catherine Hopkins

    Information Officer

    INMO HQ, Dublin

    Catherine O'Connor

    Information Officer

    INMO HQ, Dublin

    Office Opening Hours:

    Monday to Thursday

    9.00 am - 5.00 pm


    8.30 am - 4.30 pm

    Closed Saturday and Sunday