There are many types of leave or time off work to which you may be entitled. These include annual leave, public holidays, sick leave, maternity leave, adoptive leave, carer’s leave and parental leave. There is no statutory entitlement to paternity leave. There are also times when you may require leave or time off work for specific reasons. This could be when you have a family crisis, when you are called for jury service or if you wish to take study leave or a career break. In some cases you are entitled to paid leave but in others you are not.
If you have a family crisis the Parental Leave Acts 1998 and 2006 give an employee a limited right to leave from work. This is known as force majeure leave. It arises where, for urgent family reasons, the immediate presence of the employee is indispensable owing to an injury or illness of a close family member.
Force majeure leave does not give any entitlement to leave following the death of a close family member.
A close family member is defined as one of the following:
The maximum amount of leave is 3 days in any 12-month period or 5 days in a 36-month period. You are entitled to be paid while you are on force majeure leave - see 'How to apply' below for more details. Your employer may grant you further leave.
You are protected against unfair dismissal for taking force majeure leave or proposing to take it.
If a member of your close family dies you have no entitlement to force majeure leave. Other compassionate leave not covered by force majeure leave will depend on your employment contract, custom and practice within your workplace or the employer's discretion.
There is a range of bereavement counselling and support services available. Employees and employers may also find this series of short, simple information leaflets aimed at the bereaved and those who support them, of assistance.
If you are called for jury service, generally you are obliged to attend. The Juries Act 1976 requires that an employee or an apprentice who is called for jury service be given time off to attend the court. Under the Act while you are absent from work to comply with a jury summons you are entitled to be paid and you should not lose any other employment entitlements or rights. So, for example, the time spent on jury service will not mean any loss of annual leave entitlement.
There is no entitlement to take a career break or study leave. You may have a provision in your contract of employment about this or you may be able to negotiate with your employer. An employer should consider requests for a career break or study leave made on an individual basis.
Force majeure leave: you must notify your employer as soon as practicably possible that you need to avail of force majeure leave. Immediately on your return to work, you must make your application in writing to your employer. Your application in writing should include your name, PPS No., name and address of your employer, date(s) on which you took force majeure leave and reasons why, and your relationship to the person who was injured or ill. Your contract of employment may require you to provide a medical certificate.
As with parental leave, your employer must keep records of all force majeure leave taken by employees.
Further information about force majeure leave is available from Workplace Relations Customer Services - see 'Where to apply' below.
If there is a dispute between you and your employer about force majeure leave the issue can be referred within 6 months of the dispute occurring. You must use the new online complaint form (available by selecting ‘Make a complaint in relation to employment rights’ on workplacerelations.ie). The time limit may be extended for up to a further 6 months, but only where there are exceptional circumstances which prevented the complaint being brought within the normal time limit.
Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation
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Tel: (059) 917 8990
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If you have a question relating to this topic you can contact the Citizens Information Phone Service on 0761 07 4000 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm) or you can visit your local Citizens Information Centre.