As of last week, September 1st, 2020 an increase in unpaid parental leave comes into effect, with the leave increasing from 22 weeks to 26 weeks per parent per child under 12 years, or 16 where the child has a disability.

The Parental Leave Act 1998 (amended by the Parental Leave (Amendment) Acts 2006, and 2019), allows parents to take a period of unpaid leave from employment to look after their children.

In basic terms, parental leave can be taken for each child before their 12th birthday. However, if a child was adopted between the age of 10 and 12, you can take parental leave for them for up to two years after the date of the adoption order. In the case of a child with a disability or a long-term illness, leave may be taken up to 16 years of age.

Where an employee has more than one child, parental leave is limited to 18 weeks in a 12-month period, though 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.

If you work part-time, your entitlement to parental leave is reduced on a pro-rata basis.

There are certain criteria to be eligible to take parental leave, these include:

  • The legislation applies to relevant parents, which includes mothers, fathers and parents of adopted children
  • Leave must be taken before the child’s 12th birthday, or the child’s16th birthday for a child with a disability.
  • Usually one should have been working for an employer for a year before being entitled to parental leave. However, if the child is close to the age threshold and the employee has been working for the employer for more than 3 months, but less than one year, he / she can take pro-rata parental leave.
  • The employee must give at least 6 weeks’ notice of their intention to take parental leave to the employer
  • Unless the employer agrees to the contrary, the leave should be taken either in one continuous period or in two separate blocks of at least 6 weeks each and there must be a gap of at least ten weeks between each block.
  • The employer can postpone the parental leave for up to six months and a second postponement may be allowed if the reason for postponement is due to seasonal variations in the employer’s volume of work.

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.


NB – This is a guide for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. If you have an issue requiring legal advice, please contact any of the team at Nolan Farrell & Goff, whose numbers can be found on our website,