The Adoptive Leave Act originally covered all adopting mothers or sole male adopters who are in employment. But positively there was a revision of the act this year which expanded adoptive leave to a parent who adopts alone or to one parent of any couple that jointly adopts, and they will choose which of them will avail of adoptive leave.
Under this act an employee is entitled to a minimum of 24 consecutive weeks’ adoptive leave and an optional 16 weeks’ additional adoptive leave. An adoptive parent must give their employer at least 4 weeks written notice of the expected date of placement of the child, and confirm this as soon as possible. A certificate of placement (available from the Adoption Authority of Ireland or HSE) must be given to the employer no later than 4 weeks after the date of placement.
Adopting parents are entitled to time off during working hours without loss of pay to attend preparation classes and pre-adoption meetings with social workers/ health board officials required during the pre-adoption process.
There is no set period of the retention of adoptive leave records, however claims can be made within 6 months of employers being informed of an issue giving rise to a dispute or extended to 12 months in exceptional circumstances which employers must be aware of.
An employee will maintain all of his/her employee rights, other than remuneration, during the 24-week period, including the entitlement to annual and public holidays. An employee who is on adoptive leave is normally entitled to payment from the Department of Social Community and Family Affairs, depending on meeting certain eligibility criteria.
When adoptive leave ends, the employee must provide 4 weeks notice of the intended date of return, and will be entitled to return to his/her usual job so far as reasonably practicable. However, if this is not possible, the employee has to be offered suitable alternative work.
Pre-adoption classes and meetings
An employee is entitled to paid leave for pre-adoption classes or meetings, which the employee is obliged to attend. This leave will be granted subject to the employee giving the company two weeks notice in writing, of the times and location of the classes and/or meetings. An appointment card should accompany this written notification from the relevant body running the classes.
Termination of Additional Adoptive Leave
Should the employee fall ill during the additional adoptive leave, or if he/she has indicated that he/she has the intention to avail of additional adoptive leave and then falls ill, the employee may apply to commence sick leave instead of taking all or the remaining additional adoptive leave. This is entirely at the discretion of the company. When the employee transfers to sick leave, they forfeit their right to the remaining additional leave.
Postponement of Leave in the Event of the Hospitalisation of the Child
If the child falls ill and is hospitalised then the employee may apply to have the adoptive leave or additional leave postponed until the child is released from hospital. The decision to allow this postponement lies entirely at the discretion of the company.
The employee should request this postponement in writing with a letter confirming the hospitalisation of the child. The maximum period of postponement of leave is six months from the date of postponement. The employee must provide a letter or appropriate document from the hospital or the child’s GP confirming the date that the child was discharged from hospital, before resuming leave. Resumed leave must commence within seven days of the child’s discharge from hospital, or by agreement.
Employee Absence Due to Sickness during Period of Postponement
If the employee should fall ill during a period of postponement, and subsequently be absent from work, she will be deemed to have resumed adoptive leave from the first day of absence, unless she confirms in writing that this is not her wish. If the employee prefers to avail of sick leave, she must confirm this and forfeits her right to any remaining adoptive leave entitlements.