Companies must provide parental leave to facilitate parents who require periods of short-term unpaid leave to take care of a child under 8 years of age, or older in specific circumstances.
Any full-time employee, who is a mutual or adoptive parent, or in loco parentis, and has completed one year’s continuous service, is entitled to 18 weeks unpaid leave per child, to enable him/her to take care of his/her child. All parents of children under eight years of age are eligible, as are parents of a disabled child under 16 years, and there is an extension if a child under 8 is adopted and is within 2 years of an adoption order.
The 18-week entitlement may be taken continuously or broken down into periods of a minimum of 6 weeks (optional on broken down into days, weeks or months), and each application will be dealt with on an individual basis. Part-time employees have a pro-rata entitlement, based on the number of hours worked.
Where an employee has less than 1 years service and more than 3 months continuous service, and the child is about to go beyond the specific age limit, the parental leave entitlement is one week’s unpaid leave for each month of continuous employment. Any period of probation, training or apprenticeship will be suspended while an employee is on parental leave, and will be completed on the employee’s return.
All employment rights will be protected while on parental leave other than the right to remuneration. Annual leave and public holiday entitlements accrue while an employee is on parental leave. There is no Social Welfare support during periods of parental leave but an employee can apply for PRSI credits for any period of parental leave. Should an employee fall ill while on parental leave and be unable to care for their child, they need to contact their manager. For all periods of medically certified sick leave, the employee may transfer to the company sick-pay scheme, and resume their parental leave when fit to take care of their child. Normal sick leave notification procedures apply.
Applying for Parental Leave
An employee must give six weeks written notice of their intention to take parental leave. Employers may request that employees provide evidence of their entitlement to parental leave e.g. a copy of the child's birth certificate. Upon receiving a request, employers should issue a Confirmation Document no less than four weeks before commencement of the parental leave. An employee may revoke their notice to parental leave prior to signing the Confirmation Documentation, but not after. Parental leave cannot be transferred between parents, save where they are employed by the same employer, subject to the employers consent, 14 of the 18 weeks may be transferred.
The company has the right to postpone the granting of parental leave for up to six months, if granting it at a certain time would have an adverse impact on the business. In such cases, the company will consult with the employee so that a mutual alternative can be reached within 6 months, and should the child reach the age limit, this will not prevent the parent taking the leave at the future date.
Return to Work
At the end of the period of parental leave, the employee is entitled to return to their normal job under the same terms and conditions. If this is not feasible, suitable alternative employment will be provided.
Abuse of Parental Leave
If, at any stage, the company suspects that parental leave is not being taken for the reason stated, written notification will be sent to the employee outlining the company’s concerns and requesting a reply within 7 days. The company retains the right to terminate the parental leave if the employee is found to be in breach of the policy and the disciplinary procedure will apply.