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Parental Leave Act 1998-2006


  • The Parental Leave Act 1998-2006, allows both parents in Ireland to take equal and separate unpaid parental leave from their employment in respect of certain children at the employer’s discretion. One parent may if the employer agrees, transfer their allowance to the other parent. A person acting in loco parentis with respect to an eligible child is also eligible.
  • You must have been working for your employer for a year before you are entitled to parental leave. You may be entitled to a pro-rata leave entitlement i.e. 1 weeks leave for 1 months worked, if your child is very near the age threshold and you have been working for your employer for more than three months but less than one year.

Age of child

  • Since 18 May 2006, leave can be taken in respect of a child up to 8 years of age. If a child was adopted between the age of 6 and 8, leave in respect of that child may be taken up to 2 years after the date of the adoption order.
  • Leave in the case of a child with a disability is up to the child is 16 years of age. Extension may also be allowed where illness or other incapacity prevented the employee taking the leave within the normal period.

Amount of parental leave

  • Since the 8th March 2013, the leave has increased to 18 working weeks per child. The 18 weeks per child may be taken in one continuous period or in 2 separate blocks of a minimum of 6 weeks.
  • There must be a gap of at least 10 weeks between the 2 periods of parental leave per child. However, if your employer agrees you can separate your leave into periods of days or even hours.

Limitation to the Leave

  • Where an employee has more than one child, parental leave is limited to 18 weeks in a 12-month period. This can be longer if the employer agrees.
  • Parents of twins or triplets can take more than 18 weeks of parental leave in a year.
  • Parental leave is unpaid leave; however, you have a contractual right to paid or part-paid leave.
  • An employer may postpone the leave for up to 6 months. This must be done before the confirmation document is signed.

Social insurance contributions

  • Your employer must write to the Records Update Section of Department of Social Protection (DSP), detailing the weeks you have not worked, so that you can get credited PRSI contributions for this time.

Transfer leave to New Employment

  • If you change job and have used part of your parental leave allowance you can use the remainder after one year’s employment with your new employer

Terms and Conditions Protected while on Parental Leave

  • You are entitled to return to your job after your parental leave unless it is not reasonably practicable for the employer to allow you to return to your old job. If this is the case you must be offered a suitable alternative on terms no less favorable compared with the previous job including any improvement in pay or other conditions which occurred while you were on parental leave.

Notification of Parental Leave

  • You should inform your employer in writing at least 6 weeks before the leave is due to start, outlying proposed time frame for the leave etc. You will be required to confirm your intention not less than 4 weeks before the leave is due.

Force Majeure Leave

  • An employee shall be entitled to leave with pay from his or her employment, to be known and referred to in this Act as “force majeure leave”, where, for urgent family reasons, owing to an injury to or the illness of a person, the immediate presence of the employee at the place where the person is, whether at his or her home or elsewhere, is indispensable.

Family Members covered by the Act in relation to the employee concerned

  • A child or adoptive child of the employee, spouse, an employee or a person with whom the employee is living as husband or wife with, a person to whom the employee is acting as their parent, brother, sister, parent or grandparent of the employee, person living with the employee and who the employee is a carer for. The sexual orientation of the persons concerned is immaterial.

Notification of Force Majeure Leave

  • The employee must inform their employer as soon a possible after their return to work from a Force Majeure absence, that their leave was as a result of a Force Majeure leave. This notice must be in writing specifying the dates on which it was taken etc and contain a statement of the facts entitling why the employee is seeking force majeure leave

Leave Entitlement

  • An employee may not take more than 3 days of force majeure
  • leave in any 12 consecutive months, or 5 days in any 36 consecutive months. Absence for part of a day is counted as one day of force majeure leave

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