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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.