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KNOW YOUR RIGHTS: How to make parental leave work

June 20th, 2022 11:50 AM

By Southern Star Team

KNOW YOUR RIGHTS: How to make parental leave work Image
Each parent is entitled to 26 weeks’ unpaid leave before their child is 12 years old.

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AT this time of the year, parents and guardians start to think about childcare for school summer holidays. There are options, including parental leave, that can be availed of.

Parents have several different types of statutory leave entitlements outside of parental leave, for example, maternity leave, adoptive leave, paternity leave and parent’s leave.

Parental leave

Since September 1st 2020 each parent is entitled to 26 weeks’ unpaid parental leave. You must take parental leave before the child is 12 years of age, or 16 years of age if the child has a disability. In general, you must have been working for your employer for at least 12 months to be entitled to parental leave.

There is no social welfare payment available. Both parents have an equal, separate entitlement to parental leave. This means you are both entitled to 26 weeks leave.

If you both work for the same employer and your employer agrees, you can transfer 14 weeks of your parental leave entitlement to the other parent. If you change job and have used part of your parental leave allowance, you can use the remainder of your allowance after one year’s employment with your new employer (once your child is still under 12).

Maternity leave

The law in Ireland provides specific protection for pregnant employees. You are entitled to paid time-off work to attend any medical visits (also known as antenatal visits or appointments) associated with the pregnancy and to attend a certain number of antenatal classes.

You are entitled to 26 weeks of maternity leave, typically starting two weeks before your due date

You may also be entitled to Maternity Benefit if you have enough social insurance (PRSI) contributions.

You can take additional maternity leave for up to 16 more weeks, beginning immediately after the end of your 26 weeks’ basic maternity leave.

Maternity Benefit does not cover additional maternity leave, and your employer does not have to pay you during this time.

Adoptive leave

If you have become a parent through adoption, you can take adoptive leave from employment.

If you have enough PRSI contributions you may qualify for Adoptive Benefit.

Adoptive leave gives 24 weeks’ leave off work to one parent of the adopting couple or a parent who is adopting alone.

The 24 weeks start from the date the child is placed in your care.

You can take up to 16 additional weeks’ unpaid adoptive leave but you cannot claim Adoptive Benefit for these extra weeks.

The parent who does not avail of adoptive leave is entitled to paternity leave.

Paternity leave

New parents (other than the mother of the child) are entitled to two weeks’ paternity leave from employment or self-employment in the six months following the birth or adoption of a child.

You can take time off if you are employed or self-employment, and can start the leave any time in the first six months after the baby’s birth or adoption. It does not matter how long you have been working for your employer or how many hours you work a week.

Usually, fathers take paternity leave. Paternity leave is also available to same-sex couples.

Your employer does not have to pay you during paternity leave, but you may qualify for Paternity Benefit if you have enough PRSI contributions.

Parent’s leave

This aims to let working parents spend more time with their baby or adopted child during the first two years.

Each parent is entitled to five weeks of paid parent’s leave for a child born or adopted on or after November 1st 2019.

Parent’s leave is available to both employees and people who are self-employed.

Parent’s Benefit is paid while you are on parent’s leave if you have enough PRSI contributions.

Your employer does not have to pay you while you are on parent’s leave, although some employers may ‘top-up’ your parent’s leave.

If you qualify for Parent’s Benefit, you will get €250 each week.

Plans to extend parent’s leave were announced in Budget 2022 but the specific date when these changes will be implemented have not yet been announced.

For further information about any of the types of leave for parents outlined here or if you have other questions, you can call a member of the local Citizens Information Service in West Cork on 0818 07 8390. They will be happy to assist you and if necessary arrange an appointment for you.

The offices are staffed from 10am-5pm from Monday to Thursday and on Friday from 10am-4pm.

Alternatively you can email [email protected] or log on to

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