Everything You Need To Know About Parental Leave

It can be a constant struggle for many parents juggling work and family life. Thankfully we have The Parental Leave Act 1998, (amended by the Parental Leave (Amendment) Act 2006), for parents who want to take time away from work to be with their child/children. 

It can be a constant struggle for many parents juggling work and family life. Thankfully we have The Parental Leave Act 1998, (amended by the Parental Leave (Amendment) Act 2006), for parents who want to take time away from work to be with their child/children. The act allows for full protection to each employee who takes leave but unlike all other EU member states, parental leave in Ireland is unpaid.
Are you considering taken parental leave? Today we answer your most commonly asked questions when it comes to parental leave in Ireland:
Can my employer refuse parental leave?
Yes, an employer can refuse parental leave if you do not meet minimum requirements - you must be working for your employer for at least 12 months before you are entitled to apply for parental leave. 
In some circumstances, an employer can postpone parental leave for up to six months. For example, your employer could dispute the fact they have nobody to cover you or other employees may be on parental leave at the same time. 
What age must my child be to apply for parental leave?
To qualify for parental leave your child must be no older than 8 years of age. However, if the child is adopted between the age of 6 and 8 leave can be taken up to 2 years after the date of the adoption order. The age limit for a child with a disability or long-term illness is 16 years.
How long can I take off work to be with my child?
A parent can take a total of 18 weeks per child although if you have more than one child, it is limited to one child per year meaning 18 weeks can only be taken in a twelve month period. Parents of twins or triplets can take more than 18 weeks a year.
The 18-week entitlement can be taken in one block or it can be split in two with one half being a minimum of 6 weeks. To qualify for the break there must be at least ten weeks between the two. In some cases, employers will allow you to separate your leave into periods of days or hours.
How do I apply for parental leave?
To apply for parental leave you must inform your employer in writing of your intentions at least 6 weeks prior to the start date. In your notice, you must also declare how long the leave will last.
Do I get paid while on parental leave?
Parental leave is unpaid leave, you are not entitled to any social welfare payments or payment from your employer. Ireland is the only EU member state that provides no period of paid leave.
What are the minimum requirements requested when applying for parental leave?
To qualify for parental leave an employee must have completed one year's continuous service with their employer. However, if your child is nearing the age limit and you have been working for your employer for over 3 months you may be entitled to pro-rata parental leave. This means you can receive one week's leave for every month in your new job.
Will my job still be there after Parental Leave?
Unless it is unreasonably impractical you are entitled to return to your old job. If this is impossible a suitable alternative must be given to an employee returning after parental leave. The new role must not be less favourable than the previous job including payment and conditions.
Can my partner take Parental Leave?
Both parents have an equal entitlement to parental leave. Although if you both work for the same employer, you can only claim your own parental leave entitlement and it is possible to transfer 14 weeks of your parental leave entitlement to each other.
What happens with holidays and public holidays?
Anyone who takes parental leave is still classed as an employee meaning you are entitled to holidays and bank holidays while on leave. Any holidays or public holidays can be added to the end of your leave.
What happens if I become sick during Parental Leave?
In cases where a parent becomes ill and is unable to care for the child during leave, it can be suspended for the duration of the illness. Written notice and evidence of the illness must be provided to the employer. Parental leave will resume following the illness.
Written by Kellie Kearney staff writer at FFHQ who also blogs at www.mylittlebabog.com.

Kellie Kearney

Kellie Kearney is a Dublin mammy of five kids aged newborn right up to nine. She loves coffee, cloth nappies, travel and sharing her every day true to life family moments on Instagram.

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