Parent's leave

Introduction

Parent’s leave entitles each parent to 5 weeks’ leave during the first 2 years of a child’s life, or in the case of adoption, within 2 years of the placement of the child with the family.

Each parent is entitled to 5 weeks paid parent’s leave for a child born or adopted on or after 1 November 2019. The leave period remains the same in the case of multiple births, for example if you have twins or if you adopt 2 or more children at the same time.

You may also qualify for a payment called Parent’s Benefit during parent’s leave. 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 from work if you have enough social insurance (PRSI) contributions. If you are self-employed you should apply directly to the Department of Social Protection (DSP) for Parent’s Benefit at least 6 weeks before you intend to take parent’s leave.

Please note that 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 €245 each week.

Changes to Parent’s Leave from April 2021

From April 2021:

  • The 2 weeks' parent’s leave has increased to 5 weeks for each parent
  • The 2 weeks’ Parent’s Benefit has increased to 5 weeks for each parent (if you qualify)
  • You can take parent's leave during the first 2 years of your child's life (or 2 years from adoption)
  • You can take 5 weeks together or take separate weeks of leave
  • The increase is available for any child born or adopted on or after 1 November 2019

What is the difference between parental leave and parent’s leave?

Parental leave entitles parents to take unpaid leave from work to spend time looking after their children. Since 1 September 2020, both parents can take up to 26 weeks parental leave. You can get more information about parental leave.

Parent’s leave is specifically for parents during the child’s first 2 years.

Paternity leave is specifically for new parents in their child’s first 6 months.

Other statutory entitlements available for parents are maternity leave and adoptive 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 from April 2021

Yes, Parent’s Benefit is paid for 5 weeks

Rules about parent's leave

The legislation governing parent’s leave is the Parent's Leave and Benefit Act 2019, as amended.

You must meet certain criteria to be eligible to take parent’s leave. You must:

  • Be a relevant parent – see ‘Who can take parent’s leave?’ below:
  • Take the leave within 104 weeks (2 years) of the birth of the child or in the case of adoption, from the date the child is placed with you (the placement date)
  • Give at least 6 weeks’notice to your employer

The legislation only provides for the minimum entitlement to parent’s leave. Your contract of employment may give you more rights.

Who can take parent’s leave?

Relevant parents can take parent’s leave for eligible children. A relevant parent is one of the following:

  • A parent of the child
  • A spouse, civil partner or cohabitant of the parent of the child
  • A parent of a donor-conceived child as provided for under section 5 of the Children and Family Relationships Act 2015
  • The adopting parent or parents of a child
  • The spouse, civil partner or spouse of the adopting parent of the child (if the parents have not adopted jointly)

How can I take parent’s leave?

You can take this leave as:

  • One continuous period of 5 weeks leave or
  • Seperate periods of not less than one week

Parent’s leave cannot be transferred between parents – except in specified circumstances such as the death of one of the parents.

How much will I get paid during parent’s leave?

If you have enough PRSI contributions, you will get a weekly Parent’s Benefit of €245 per week. This is paid by the Department of Social Protection (DSP). Your employer does not have to pay you while you are on parent’s leave. However, some employers do pay or top up your pay during the leave period – this is set out in your contract of employment.

Other rules for parent’s leave

  • You are treated as being in employment while you are on parent’s leave (and all other types of statutory leave for parents). You are entitled to return to your job after parent’s leave.
  • Annual leave – you can build up annual leave while you are on parent’s leave.
  • Public holidays – you are entitled to any public holidays that occur during your parent’s leave.
  • PRSI contributions – you can get credited PRSI contributions while you are on parent’s leave.

Can I share my parent's leave with my partner?

Both parents have an equal separate entitlement to parent’s leave. You cannot transfer your entitlement to your partner.

Where one parent dies, the surviving parent is entitled to leave for the amount of leave the deceased parent did not take from their 5 week entitlement (this is known as transferred parent’s leave).

How to apply for parent's leave

You must give notice to your employer before you can take parent’s leave.

You must:

  • Give your notice in writing
  • Tell your employer at least 6 weeks before the leave is due to start
  • Include the start date, the way the leave will be taken and how long the leave will last

You can contact the Workplace Relations Commission's Information and Customer Service for more information on your employment rights - see 'Where to apply' below.

You can find out more about Parent's Benefit.

Can my employer refuse my application for parent’s leave?

Your employer can only refuse parent’s leave if you are not entitled to it.

Your employer can postpone your parent’s leave for up to 12 weeks. Your employer could postpone your leave for the following reasons:

  • Seasonal variations in the volume of work
  • No replacement to carry out your work
  • The nature of your duties
  • The number of other employees also taking parent’s leave
  • Any other relevant matters

How to make a complaint?

You are protected against penalisation and unfair dismissal for claiming your rights under parent’s leave legislation.

Disputes about parental leave can be referred by the employee or the employer to the Workplace Relations Commission within 6 months of the dispute or complaint occurring.

You must use the online complaint form available on workplacerelations.ie. The time limit may be extended for up to a further 6 months, but only if there is a reasonable cause which prevented the complaint from being brought within the normal time limit.

Where to apply

Parent's Benefit Section

Department of Social Protection

McCarter's Road
Buncrana
Donegal
Ireland
F93 CH79

Tel: (01) 471 5898
Locall: 1890 690 690 (Note: the rates charged for using 1890 (Lo-call) numbers may vary)

Workplace Relations Commission - Information and Customer Service

O'Brien Road
Carlow
R93 E920

Opening Hours: Mon. to Fri. 9.30am to 1pm, 2pm to 5pm
Tel: (059) 917 8990
Locall: 1890 80 80 90
Page edited: 28 April 2021