Leave for parents

Parents have a right to time off work to look after their children. Parents have several different types of statutory leave entitlements, for example, maternity leave, adoptive leave, paternity leave, parental leave and parent’s leave.

This table explains the differences between the types of leave for parents.

Leave Who gets it? How long? Is it paid?
Maternity leave Female employees 26 weeks and up to 16 unpaid weeks Yes, Maternity Benefit is paid for 26 weeks
Adoptive leave One parent of the adoptive couple, or a parent adopting alone 24 weeks and up to 16 unpaid weeks Yes, Adoptive Benefit is paid for 24 weeks
Paternity leave New parents of children under 6 months of age (usually the father or the partner of the mother, or in the case of adoption, the parent who is not taking adoptive leave) 2 weeks Yes, Paternity Benefit is paid for 2 weeks
Parental leave Parents and guardians of children under 12 26 weeks No, it’s unpaid
Parent’s leave Parents of children under 2 years of age

Parents of adopted children in the first 2 years of the placement of the child

5 weeks Yes, Parent’s Benefit is paid for 5 weeks

Maternity leave

If you become pregnant while in employment, you are entitled to take 26 weeks maternity leave. Employers do not have to pay you while you are on maternity leave. You may be entitled to Maternity Benefit. You are also entitled to take up to 16 weeks of additional unpaid maternity leave, which is not covered by Maternity Benefit.

Adoptive leave

One parent of the adopting couple or a parent who is adopting alone alone is entitled to 24 weeks’ 24 weeks’ adoptive leave, beginning on the day the child is placed with them. Employers do not have to pay an employee for adoptive leave. You may be entitled to Adoptive Benefit. You are also entitled to take up to 16 weeks’ additional unpaid adoptive leave, but this period is not covered by Adoptive Benefit.

Paternity leave

New parents are entitled to 2 weeks’ paternity leave from employment or self-employment following the birth or adoption of a child. Employers do not have to pay you while you are on paternity leave. You may be eligible for Paternity Benefit.

Parental leave

From 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.

Parent’s leave

Parent’s leave is a statutory entitlement for parents in employment or self-employment. It aims to let working parents spend more time with their baby or adopted child during the first two years. Each parent is entitled to 5 weeks leave for a child born or adopted on or after 1 November 2019. You may be eligible for Parent’s Benefit.

Budget 2022

It was announced in Budget 2022, that the following changes to parent’s leave provisions will apply from July 2022:

  • 5 weeks’ parent’s leave will increase to 7 weeks for each parent
  • 5 weeks’ Parent’s Benefit will increase to 7 weeks for each parent (if you qualify)

Page edited: 13 October 2021