The Parental Leave (Amendment) Act 2019 (the “Act”) came into operation on 19 July 2019 and introduced a number of changes in relation to parental leave.
At present, each parent is entitled to 18 weeks of (unpaid) parental leave. Under the Act, this entitlement is set to increase as follows:
|Commencement date||Parental leave entitlement|
|1 September 2019||22 weeks leave|
|1 September 2020||26 weeks leave|
Parents are entitled to this leave in respect of each child under the age of 12 years (previously 8 years) or 16 years in the case of a child with a disability or a long-term illness.
Other key points to note in relation to parental leave:
- Employees must have completed one year’s continuous employment with his/her employer before he/she is entitled to parental leave. However, where an employee has completed three months employment, he/she will be entitled to one week of parental leave for each month of continuous employment completed.
- In general, parental leave must be taken: (i) in one continuous block; (ii) in two separate periods of at least six weeks each (with at least ten weeks between the two periods); or (iii) otherwise as agreed by the employer. Where some parental leave has already been taken, the remaining leave can be taken in periods of not less than one week.
- Annual leave and public holiday entitlements continue to accrue during parental leave.
- Employees must provide notice in writing to his/her employer, at least 6 weeks in advance of his/her intention to take parental leave.
- An employee’s request to take parental leave may be postponed for a period of up to six months if it would have a substantial adverse effect on the operation of the business by reason of:
- seasonal variations in the volume of the work concerned,
- the unavailability of a person to carry out the duties of the employee,
- the nature of those duties,
- the number of employees in the employment, or
- the number of employees whose parental leave will fall within the same period of time.
Parental leave may be postponed only once, unless the ground for the postponement is seasonal variations in the volume of the work concerned, where the leave may be postponed twice.
Separately, employers should be aware of the proposed introduction of two weeks paid parental leave for all new parents from November 2019 for children up to 12 months old only. This is expected to increase to seven weeks over the next three years and will be paid at the same rate as Maternity Benefit and Paternity Benefit (which is currently €245 per week).
Please feel free to contact Ogier Leman, should you need any advice in relation to parental leave. In particular, employers are advised to update their parental leave policies to reflect the above changes.