There have recently been significant increases and other proposed changes, to parental leave entitlements for employees. It is important that all employers, parents and prospective parents are aware of these changes.

Since September 1st, 2019, 22 weeks of parental leave is available for each eligible child. This parental leave must be taken before the child’s 12th birthday. Prior to this date the entitlement to parental leave was 18 weeks for each eligible child to be taken before the child’s 8th birthday.

The increase in parental leave will amount to a total of 26 weeks per child by September 1st, 2020 as the full 8 week increase is being phased in over two years.

Criteria to be eligible to take parental leave:

  • 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’s 16th 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.

The legislation provides for the minimum entitlement to parental leave. The employee contract may provide for more extensive rights.

Other new legislation (The Parental Leave and BenefitAct ) provides two extra weeks government paid leave for each parent in the first year of a child’s life. The Minister for Justice at the time claimed that up to 60,000 parents could be entitled to benefit from this. He proposes parents would be paid at the same rate as existing maternity and paternity benefits. The working parent would then receive €245 per week (being the current maternity/paternity benefit amount), or an amount equivalent to illness benefit, whichever is the greater.

The provisions will apply to the parents of children born or adopted from November 1st, 2019 and will be available to self-employed workers as well as employees.


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 at 051 859999/