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Unpaid Parental Leave

From: Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection

What Parental Leave is

The Parental Leave Act, 1998, as amended, allows fathers and mothers to take unpaid leave to look after young children. You may take parental leave either as a single block of 18 weeks or, with your employer’s agreement, as smaller blocks, broken up over a period of time.

Parents who take parental leave may get a PRSI credit for each week taken. This makes sure that cover for social welfare benefits is kept up-to-date. Your employer should write to the Records Section (address below), confirming the number of weeks and exact dates of your parental leave.

For further information on PRSI credits for parental leave contact:

Location = records section

Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection

McCarters Road

Buncrana

Telephone: (01) 4715898

LoCall: 1890 690 690

If calling from outside the Republic of Ireland please call + 1 4715898

For more information on parental leave, contact:

Location = Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission

16-22 Green Street

Dublin 7

D07 CR20

Telephone: (01) 858 9601

LoCall: 1890 245 545

If calling from outside the Republic of Ireland please call+353 1 858 9601

Website: www.ihrec.ie

How to qualify for parental leave credits

Covered under PRSI Credits Information Pack

As a parent, you may take parental leave, either as a continuous block of 18 weeks or, with the agreement of your employer, broken up over a period of time.

If you take parental leave you will get a credit for each full week you take. This will ensure that your existing cover for social welfare payments is maintained.

Your employer should write to the Client Eligibility Services confirming the duration, number of weeks and exact dates of your parental leave.

For further information contact:

Location =Client Eligibility Services

Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection

McCarter's Road

Ardarvan

Buncrana

Co. Donegal

Telephone: (01) 4715898

LoCall: 1890 690 690

If calling from outside the Republic of Ireland please call + 1 4715898

Parental Leave Credits Covered under Pay Related Social Insurance

Parents may take Parental Leave, either as a continuous block of 18 weeks or, with the agreement of the employer, broken up over a period of time. Parents who take Parental Leave will get a credit for each full week taken. This will ensure that existing cover for social welfare payments is maintained. Employers should write to CES confirming the duration, number of weeks and exact dates of Parental Leave (Client Eligibility Services, Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, McCarters Road, Buncrana, Co. Donegal).

Amount of Parental Leave

Since 8 March 2013 the amount of parental leave available for each child amounts to a total of 18 working weeks per child. 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.

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.

Both parents have an equal separate entitlement to parental leave. Unless you and your partner work for the same employer, you can only claim your own parental leave entitlement (18 weeks per child). If you both work for the same employer and your employer agrees you may transfer 14 weeks of your parental leave entitlement to each other.

Parental Leave and Employer

There are a number of rules about parental leave that relate to your employment and what your employer must do when you take parental leave.

  • Generally you must have been working for your employer for a year before you are entitled to parental leave. However if your child is very near the age threshold and you have been working for your employer for more than 3 months but less than one year you are entitled to pro-rata parental leave. This is one week's leave for every month of employment completed.
  • 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 provided your child is still under the qualifying age
  • Apart from a refusal on the grounds on non-entitlement, an employer may also postpone the leave for up to 6 months. This must be done before the confirmation document is signed. After that, the leave cannot be postponed without further written agreement. Grounds for such a postponement include lack of cover or the fact that other employees are already on parental leave. Normally only one postponement is allowed, but it may be postponed twice if the reason is seasonal variations in the volume of work.
  • Parental leave is to be used only to take care of the child concerned. If the parental leave is taken and used for another purpose the employer is entitled to cancel the leave.
  • Employers must keep records of all parental leave taken by their employees. These records must include the period of employment of each employee and the dates and times of the leave taken. Employers must keep these records for 8 years. If an employer fails to keep records they may be liable, on summary conviction, to a class C fine.
  • 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 favourable compared with the previous job including any improvement in pay or other conditions which occurred while you were on parental leave.
  • The legislation protects parents who take parental leave from unfair dismissal.
  • Since 8 March 2013, when you return to work after taking parental leave, you are entitled to ask for a change in your work pattern or working hours for a set period. Your employer must consider your request but is not obliged to grant it.

How to apply

You must give written notice to your employer of your intention to take parental leave. You should inform your employer in writing at least 6 weeks before the leave is due to start. The notice should state the starting date and how long the leave will last. After this not less than 4 weeks before the leave is due to start, you will need to sign a document with your employer confirming the details of the leave.

For more information on parental leave you can contact the Workplace Relations Commission's Information and Customer Service - see 'Where to apply' below.

Disputes about parental leave can be referred by the employee or the employer within 6 months of the dispute or complaint occurring. You must use the online complaint form available on workplacerelations.ie. The time limit may be extended for up to a further 6 months, but only if there is a reasonable cause which prevented the complaint from being brought within the normal time limit.

Where to Apply

Locations

Record section

For information about employment rights and responsibilities contact:

Workplace Relations Commission

Information and Customer Service

O'Brien Road

Carlow

Tel: 059 9178990

LoCall: 1890 80 80 90

www.workplacerelations.ie

Upcoming changes to parental leave

A number of changes to parental leave are due to take place in 2019 and 2020. These include:

  • A new paid Parental Leave Scheme that allows parents to take two weeks paid leave each during their child’s first year (expected from November 2019)
  • A phased extension to the number of week’s parents can take as parental leave. Parental leave for parents of eligible children will increase from 18 weeks to 22 weeks from September 2019 and from 22 to 26 weeks from September 2020.
  • An increase in the age of children that parents can take parental leave for, this will increase from 8 to 12 years of age.

The legislation needs to be enacted before these changes come into effect.