Parents in Ireland — including same-sex couples — will be eligible to take two weeks’ leave during the 12 months following a baby’s birth or adoption occurring on or after 1 Nov 2019, the government has announced. The leave entitlement will increase gradually to a total of seven weeks by 2021. The measures feature in the General Scheme of the Parental Leave and Benefit Bill 2019, and the necessary legislation will now be drafted to introduce the leave entitlement.
Key provisions include the following:
- The leave must be taken in periods of not less than one week, and both employees and self-employed workers are eligible.
- Payment during parental leave will be at the same rate as maternity and paternity benefits — currently €245 per week. The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection will make the payment, and employers may increase it to be consistent with salary.
- The 12-month limit for taking leave can be extended in certain circumstances.
- Leave will be available on a “use it or lose it” basis, and will be nontransferable between parents unless one parent dies. Parents whose child dies during the 12-month period may continue taking any parental leave they had previously asked for or can request parental leave within six weeks of the child’s death.
- Employees who want to take leave must notify their employer in writing no later than four weeks before the proposed start date. Employees must provide their employer with necessary documentation — for example, a birth or adoption certificate. Employers must set out in writing their reasons for refusing to grant leave.
- Employees can postpone their request for leave and reschedule it. Special provisions will apply to employees who postpone leave due to their own sickness or the hospitalization of their child.
- Employees on parental leave will be protected from termination and can’t be notified of their termination or be suspended while on leave. Employees can’t be penalized for taking parental leave.
- Employers will have to keep and retain records for up to eight years.
- Press release (Department of Justice and Equality, 23 Apr 2019)
- General Scheme of the Parental Leave and Benefit Bill 2019 (Department of Justice and Equality, 23 Apr 2019)
- Press Release (IBEC, 23 Apr 2019)