The family leave provisions under the Family Leave and Miscellaneous Provisions Act 2021 (“the Act”) has now been commenced, meaning parents can avail of three weeks additional Parent’s Leave and Parent’s Benefit within the first two years of birth or adoption of a child. The previous entitlement was available during the first year of a child’s life, or in the case of adoption, within one year of placement with the family, and was for two weeks only. The Act amends the Parent’s Leave and Benefit Act 2019, providing further support for working parents to achieve a better work life balance.
The main provisions of the Act are as follows:
- An additional three weeks of Parent’s Leave and Parent’s Benefit are available to each parent of a child born or adopted on or after the 1 November 2019 (bringing the total to five weeks).
- The period in which the leave and benefit can be taken is being extended to two years from the birth or adoption of the child.
- The leave is non-transferrable between parents.
- Parent’s Benefit, which is paid by the Department of Social Protection and is currently €245 a week is now available for five weeks, taken either together or as separate weeks. Such Benefit is available to individuals who have paid sufficient social insurance contributions in the years preceding the period claimed for. Your employer does not have to pay you while you are on Parent’s leave. However, some employers do pay or top up your pay during the leave period which should be set out in your contract of employment.
- Parent’s Leave and Parents Benefit are available to both employees and people who are self-employed.
- Parents Leave can be taken in one continuous period of 5 weeks leave or periods of not less than one week.
- The increase will apply retrospectively, giving parents who have already taken two weeks’ Parent’s Leave an extra three weeks in 2021.
Parent’s Leave should not be confused with Parental Leave. Parental Leave entitles parents to take unpaid leave for up to 26 weeks for each eligible child before the age of 12. Parent’s Leave is specifically for parents during the child’s first 2 years.
Who can take Parent’s Leave?
- 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 5 of the Children and Family Relationships Act 2015.
- The adopting parent or parents of a child.
- The spouse, civil partner or spouse of the adopting parent of the child (if the parents have not adopted jointly).
- Each member of a married couple of the same sex, a couple that are civil partners of each other, or a cohabiting couple of the same sex.
How to apply for Parent’s Leave.
You must give 6 weeks written notice to your employer before you can take Parent’s Leave to include the intended start date, the way the leave will be taken and how long the leave will last.
Your employer can only refuse Parent’s Leave if you are not entitled to it. Your employer can postpone your Parent’s Leave for up to 12 weeks.
Can Parent’s Leave affect my employment?
You are treated as being in continuous employment while you are on Parent’s Leave and therefore the following will continue to apply: –
- annual leave will continue to accrue.
- Public holiday entitlements will apply.
- PRSI contributions will be credited.