The challenge for working parents in managing childcare has been addressed on two fronts recently by the Irish Government. Parents of children born on or after 1 November 2019 are now entitled to 2 weeks’ Parent’s Leave, paid by the government. Separately, parents of children up to 12 years of age are entitled to up to 22 weeks’ unpaid leave to care for their child under the similarly named “Parental Leave”.
What is Parent’s Leave?
Employees and self-employed individuals are legally entitled to take two weeks’ leave, known as “Parent’s Leave”, within the first 52 weeks of the birth or adoption of a child, so that they can care for that child. Parent’s Leave can be taken as one block of two weeks’ leave or two blocks of one week each. Parent’s Leave is in addition to Maternity, Paternity, Adoptive and unpaid Parental Leave.
What is Parent’s Benefit?
Your employer does not have to pay you while you are on Parent’s Leave however you may be eligible for Parent’s Benefit from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection.
What is Parental Leave?
Separately, parents are entitled to take up to 22 weeks’ unpaid leave to care for their child. Unpaid Parental Leave is available to employees who are parents of a child under the age of 12 or under the age of 16 in the case of a child with a long term illness or disability. In general you must have been working for your employer for at least a year to get the full amount of Parental Leave. Either parent can apply for unpaid Parental Leave.
How do I apply for Parental Leave?
You must provide your employer with 6 weeks’ notice of your intention to take unpaid Parental Leave. Minimum periods of leave apply (e.g. one continuous block or two blocks of at least six weeks), unless your employer agrees otherwise.
Although not currently provided for in legislation, it is expected that working parents will ultimately be able to benefit from seven weeks’ paid leave under the Parental Leave scheme, as it develops incrementally over the next three years.