Paternity Leave- now a statutory entitlement in Ireland
With effect from 1 September 2016 paternity leave is recognised as a legal right in Ireland.
Who is eligible?
An employee considered to be a ‘relevant parent’ of a child will be entitled to 2 weeks’ consecutive leave from their employment to care for their child.
A ‘relevant parent’ includes:
* the father of the child,
* the spouse/civil partner/cohabitant of the child’s mother
* The parent of a donor-conceived child.
In the case of an adopted child, the ‘relevant parent’ includes:
* The nominated parent in the case of a married same-sex couple or
* The spouse, civil partner or cohabitant of the adopting mother
* a sole male adopter
Only one period of leave will apply where there are multiple births or adoptions at the same time.
In the sad case of a stillbirth or a miscarriage following the 24th week of pregnancy, the entitlement to paternity leave and benefit remains available, within 26 weeks from that time, provided that the employee satisfies the PRSI requirements.
The employee must notify their employer at least 4 weeks before the date on which they wish to take paternity leave. A medical certificate setting out the expected date of birth or confirming the birth must be provided or, in the case of an adoption, proof of the date of placement.
The employer must certify the employee’s paternity leave by completing Form PB2: Employer Certificate. This certificate should be submitted to the Paternity Benefits Section of the Department of Social Protection with the paternity benefit online application.
Paternity Benefit of €230.00 per week, the same as maternity benefit, is payable by the Department of Social Protection. Eligibility for payment will be based on the same PRSI contribution requirements as maternity benefit.
The benefit must be claimed within 26 weeks of the date of birth, or date of placement if the child is adopted, and is paid for 2 consecutive weeks.
Paternity Benefit should be applied for at least 4 weeks before the leave begins. Self- employed individuals should submit an application 12 weeks prior to the leave.
Pay during Paternity Leave
Employers are not obliged to pay employees during paternity leave. Top up payments may be provided on terms and conditions decided by the employer. If the employer continues to pay the employee during paternity leave, the employer should require the employee to sign a mandate instructing the Department of Social Protection to pay the benefit directly to them or alternatively, simply pay the employee the difference between their salary and paternity benefit.
Postponing Paternity Leave
The Paternity Leave and Benefit Act 2016 provides for postponement of paternity leave. For example, if the birth is later than expected or if the date of placement of an adopted child is postponed, an employee may apply to postpone paternity leave.
If the baby is hospitalised, paternity leave and benefit may be postponed for a maximum of 6 months. Where a baby is born prematurely, and the employee wishes to change their leave dates, a letter from the employer confirming the new leave dates and date of birth / placement of the child, must be sent to the Paternity Benefit Section of the Department of Social Protection.
If the employee becomes sick before the paternity leave begins, the employee may postpone paternity leave until he recovers. The employer should be notified in writing and a medical certificate provided.
The leave must be taken within 26 weeks of the date of birth / placement.
Finally for Employers
Employers must keep records of paternity 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.
Please contact Donal T. Ryan Solicitors LLP for further details.