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.
Your employer does not have to pay you during adoptive leave, unless it is stated in your contract. If you have enough PRSI contributions, you can get Adoptive Benefit from the Department of Social Protection (DSP). It is available to both employees and self-employed people.
You can take up to 16 additional weeks’ unpaid adoptive leave but you cannot claim Adoptive Benefit for these extra weeks.
You must give your employer 4 weeks’ notice in writing that you plan to take adoptive leave – see ‘How to apply’ below.
Rules about adoptive leave
Who can take adoptive leave?
Qualifying adopters can take adoptive leave. A qualified adopter is either:
- The sole adopter, in the case of a parent who is adopting a child on their own, or
- The nominated parent in the case of an adopting couple
The adopting couple can choose who should take the adoptive leave – that is who will be the nominated parent. An adopting couple means a married couple, a couple who are civil partners or a cohabiting couple adopting a child.
The parent who does not avail of adoptive leave is entitled to paternity leave.
Can I get paid during adoptive leave?
Social welfare: If you have enough PRSI contributions, you may be able to get Adoptive Benefit. The DSP will pay Adoptive Benefit for the full 24 weeks only if your adoptive leave begins on the date of placement.
Employer: Your employer does not have to pay you while you are on adoptive leave unless it is stated in your contract of employment.
What happens to my PRSI contributions?
While you are getting Adoptive Benefit, you will automatically get PRSI credits. To add more PRSI credits for the time spent on unpaid additional adoptive leave, you must get your employer to complete an application form for adoptive leave credits (pdf) after you return to work.
Can I take additional adoptive leave?
You also have the right to take up to a further 16 weeks' additional adoptive leave. However, you do not get Adoptive Benefit for this additional leave, and your employer need only pay you if it is stated in your contract.
What happens if I get ill while on adoptive leave?
If you become ill during while you are on adoptive leave, you can ask your employer to end your additional adoptive leave and put you on sick leave. You may then be able to get sick pay or Illness Benefit.
What other types of leave are available for adoptive parents?
Parental leave: Since 1 September 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.
Paternity leave: The law gives new adoptive parents the right to take 2 weeks’ paternity leave. The parent who does not avail of adoptive leave is entitled to paternity leave. You can take paternity leave whether you are employed or self-employed. Employers do not have to pay you while you are on paternity leave, but you can get Paternity Benefit from the DSP if you have enough PRSI contributions.
Parent’s leave: Each adoptive parent can take 5 weeks’ parent’s leave during the first two years of adoption. You must give your employer 6 weeks’ notice. Your employer need not pay you for the 5 weeks’ leave unless it is stated in your contract. However, you may be able to get Parent’s Benefit from the DSP if you have enough PRSI contributions. You can find out more about parent’s leave.
Can I take paid time off before the adoption?
Before adopting a child, you may have to attend preparation classes and pre-adoption meetings with social workers. You are entitled to paid time off work for these classes and meetings.
Can I postpone adoptive leave?
Your 24 weeks’ adoptive leave normally starts from the date the child is placed with you and can be followed by 16 weeks’ additional leave. If your child has to stay in hospital or go into hospital before you have taken your adoptive leave or additional leave, you can ask your employer to postpone (or delay) the leave.
What happens to my annual leave?
In general, you are treated as though you are in employment while you are on adoptive leave and additional adoptive leave. This means you continue to build up your right to annual leave.
You are also entitled to leave for any public holidays that occur during your adoptive leave and additional adoptive leave.
Can I return to my old job after adoptive leave?
By law, you have the right to return to the same job with the same contract of employment. If this would be too difficult for your employer to arrange, then they must provide you with suitable alternative work. The terms of your new job must not be ‘less favourable’ than those of your previous job.
You have the same rights to return to work as with maternity leave, and you must also give 4 weeks’ notice of your intention to return.
If the business where you work is sold while you are on adoptive or additional adoptive leave, your rights on returning to work stay the same under the new employer.
When you take adoptive leave, the law protects you against penalisation and unfair dismissal. If you have a dispute with your employer over adoptive rights, you can complain to the Workplace Relations Commission – see ‘How to complain’ below.
Applying to your employer for adoptive leave
Giving advance notice: You must give your employer 4 weeks’ notice in writing that you plan to take adoptive leave. The 4-week rule applies whether you are adopting a child in Ireland or from another country. In your letter, you should tell your employer the date when you expect to start your leave.
If you want to take the 16 weeks’ additional adoptive leave, you must also give your employer at least 4 weeks’ written notice. You can give notice about the adoptive leave and the additional adoptive leave at the same time.
It is important to follow these rules on giving notice. If you do not, you may lose your rights to adoptive leave.
Certificate of placement: You must give your employer a certificate of placement confirming the adoption. You must do this within 4 weeks of the date that the child comes into your care.
For further information about your rights and adoptive leave, contact the Workplace Relations Commission’s Information and Customer Service. You can find out more in the booklet Your Adoptive Leave Rights Explained (pdf).
How to make a complaint
If you have a complaint or dispute about adoptive leave, you can complain to the Workplace Relations Commission within 6 months of the dispute or complaint occurring. The time limit may be extended for up to a further 6 months, but only where you have a good reason for not making the complaint within the normal time limit.
You must use the online complaint form on workplacerelations.ie.
How to apply for Adoptive Benefit
You should apply to the Adoptive Benefit Section of the DSP 6 weeks before you intend to start adoptive leave – see below.