Other types of leave from work
Taking time off work
Employees can take different types of leave or ‘time off’ from work, for example:
- If you have a family crisis (such as a child or family member who becomes unexpectedly ill)
- If you are called for jury service
- If you want to take study leave or a career break
In some cases, you are entitled to be paid for your leave, but in other cases you are not.
You may also want to read about types of statutory leave from work, including:
Force majeure leave
If you have a family crisis, you have a right to limited time off work. This is called force majeure leave.
You may need to take force majeure leave for an urgent family reason, such as the unexpected injury or illness of a ‘close family member’.
A close family member includes:
- Your child (including an adopted child)
- Your husband, wife or partner
- Your parent or grandparent
- Your brother or sister
- Someone to whom you have a duty of care (for example, if you are acting in place of a parent, also known as loco parentis)
- Someone with whom you have a relationship of ‘domestic dependency’ (this means the person relies on you to make arrangements for their care)
- Persons of any other class (if any) as may be prescribed
If a close family member has died, you do not have an entitlement to force majeure leave. Instead, you may be able to take ‘compassionate leave’ – read more about compassionate leave below.
Taking force majeure leave
By law, you are entitled to take up to 3 days force majeure leave in any 12-month period, or 5 days in a 36-month period. Depending on your employer and your contract of employment, you may be able to take more than this.
You are entitled to be paid while you are on statutory force majeure leave. If your employer allows you to take additional force majeure leave, you should check if it is paid for.
You cannot be unfairly dismissed for taking force majeure leave, or for asking to take it.
Your rights to force majeure leave are set out in the Parental Leave Acts 1998 and 2019.
How to apply for force majeure leave
Your employer must keep records of all force majeure leave taken by employees.
You must tell your employer as soon as possible that you need to take force majeure leave. Then, immediately on your return to work, you must make your application in writing to your employer.
Your written application should include:
- Your name
- PPS number
- Employer’s name and address
- Date(s) you took force majeure leave and the reasons why
- Your relationship to the person who was injured or ill
Alternatively, your employer may have a specific ‘force majeure form’ that they want you to fill in.
Your contract of employment may also require you to provide a medical certificate as proof of the sudden illness or injury (you can request this from the doctor).
If a member of your close family dies, you may be able to take compassionate leave. This depends on:
- Your employment contract
- The custom and practice within your workplace
- Your employer's discretion.
You should check with your employer about what you are entitled to.
You may also want to access some of the bereavement counselling and support services available. Or, you can get information about bereavement and grief in the workplace on the Irish Hospice Foundation’s website.
If you are called for jury service, generally you must attend. Employees (including apprentices) who are called for jury service must be given time off to attend the court. This is set out in the Juries Act 1976.
You have a right to be paid when called for jury service.
Similarly, you should not lose any other employment rights (for example, any time you spend on jury service does not affect your entitlement to annual leave).
Career break or study leave
You do not have an automatic right to take unpaid leave from work, such as a career break or study leave. However, you should check your contract of employment, as some employers make allowances for this.
If your contract does not include information on taking career breaks or study leave, you may be able to negotiate it with your employer.
Your employer should consider any request for a career break or study leave on an individual, case-by-case basis.
Get more information about taking unpaid leave from the Workplace Relations Commission’s Information and Customer Service.
How to make a complaint
If you and your employer disagree about leave (for example, if you have a dispute about your entitlement to force majeure leave), you can make a formal complaint to the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC). You must use the online complaint form. All complaints must be made within 6 months of the dispute happening.
The time limit may be extended for a further 6 months if you can show there was a ‘reasonable cause’ for the delay.
Read more about how to make a complaint, including details of the WRC adjudication process.
Get more information on the types of leave from work from the Workplace Relations Commission's Information and Customer Service.