Parent's Leave

Parent's leave in the public sector

The Parent’s Leave and Benefit Act 2019 amended by the Family Leave and Miscellaneous Provisions Act 2021 provides statutory leave for a “relevant parent” within the first two years of a child’s life, or in the case of adoption, within two years of the placement of the child with the family.  

Parent’s leave is available to each parent. The Act also provides for the payment of Parent’s Benefit from the Department of Social Protection to employees who have made the necessary PRSI contributions and satisfy the eligibility criteria for payment. Parent’s Leave and Benefit will increase from five weeks to seven weeks for parents of children born or adopted from July 2022. Employees who had taken five weeks’ parent’s leave prior to 1 July 2022 will now have an entitlement to an additional two weeks’ leave provided the child is under two years of age. 

Parent's Leave Q&A

  • You should apply in writing to your employer six weeks before the date you intend to start the leave, setting out the expected start date and duration of the leave. In circumstances where your employer is not the employer of the other parent taking maternity or adoptive leave, you must include appropriate certification confirming pregnancy and the estimated delivery date or in the case of adoption the certificate of placement. 

  • Parent’s leave is an entitlement separate from maternity leave. You cannot commence parent’s leave while you are on maternity leave, but you can start it from the day maternity leave ends. You must make a separate application for parent’s leave. 

  • There is no statutory requirement for employees to be paid by their employer during a period of parent’s leave. However, parents may be eligible for Parent’s Benefit which is payable by the Department of Social Protection, provided that PRSI contribution conditions have been met.

  • Parent can take the leave one week at a time or in a block of more than one week until they use their leave entitlement.   

    • 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 for under Section five 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 the child together). 
  • An employer cannot refuse a parent’s leave, but they can postpone it.   

  • An employer can postpone parent’s leave when they feel it would have a ‘substantial adverse effect on the operation of their business, profession or occupation’. 

    Reasons for postponement can include: 

    (a) The seasonal variations in the volume of work 
    (b) The unavailability of another person to carry out the duties of the employee during the leave period 
    (c) The nature of the duties referred to in (b), 
    (d) Staffing levels over the period of the requested leave 

    If your employer intends to postpone your requested leave, but they must let you know in writing no later than four weeks before the intended start date of the leave. 

    The leave cannot be postponed for more than 12 weeks after the requested start date and the new date must be agreed by both of you. Before postponing the parent’s leave with a written notice, the employer must consult with the employee. 

    • The notice must contain a statement summarising the grounds for postponement. 
    • The leave cannot be postponed more than once.
  • An employer cannot penalise or threaten an employee with penalisation for proposing to take parent’s leave or for taking parent’s leave. 

    Penalisation includes: 

    (a) dismissal, or threat of dismissal  
    (b) unfair treatment including selection for redundancy or unfavourable change to terms and conditions 

    If you feel you have been penalised for taking parent’s leave and it has led to your dismissal, you can make a complaint to the Workplace Relations Commission under the Unfair Dismissal Act (1977). 

  • If your child is hospitalised and you want to postpone your parent’s leave, either if it has already started or before it starts, you must put the request in writing to your employer. Your employer is not obliged to grant the request. 

  • Where a relevant parent dies, a surviving parent is entitled to "transferred parent’s leave to provide or assist in providing care for the child. This leave can be taken for a period of two weeks or for the amount of leave the deceased parent did not take. 

  • To apply for transferred parent’s leave you must, notify your employer in writing. This notification must be given no later than six weeks before the intended start date of the transferred parent’s leave.

    In your notification, mention: 

    (i) the death of the relevant parent 
    (ii) your intention to take transferred parent's leave 
    (iii) the length of leave you are entitled to 

    If requested by the employer, a copy of the death certificate may need to be provided. 

  • The death of the child does not affect the entitlement of the parent to parents leave (once it is taken within the timeframe and they qualify as a relevant parent.) This applies even where the employee has not provided written notice of their intention to take the leave. 

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    Catherine Hopkins

    Information Officer

    INMO HQ, Dublin

    Catherine O'Connor

    Information Officer

    INMO HQ, Dublin

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