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, paternity leave, adoptive leave, carer’s leave and parental 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.
Force majeure leave
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:
- A child or adopted child of the employee
- The husband, wife or partner of the employee
- Parent or grandparent of the employee
- Brother or sister of the employee
- Person to whom the employee has a duty of care (that is, he/she is acting in loco parentis)
- A person in a relationship of domestic dependency with the employee
- Persons of any other class (if any) as may be prescribed
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.
Career break or study leave
There is no entitlement to take unpaid leave such as 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.