Parental Leave

The Parental Leave Act, 1998 as amended by the Parental Leave (Amendment) Act, 2006 allows parents to take leave from their employment to take care of their children. The 2006 legislation extended the time period in respect of which leave could be taken from the previous position of until the child’s fifth birthday to the new extended position of until the child’s eighth birthday. If a child is adopted between the age of six years of age and eight years of age the leave in respect of that child may be extended to two years from the date of the Adoption Order. If the child is suffering from a disability then the leave can be taken at any time up to the child reaching sixteen years of age. The legislation also provides for an extension of time for the leave to be taken where the parent suffers from an illness or was unable for specified reasons to take the leave in the period provided.


How can Parental Leave be taken?

It can be taken as a continuous period of fourteen weeks per child. If there is more than one child then it is limited to fourteen weeks in a twelve month period except in the case of multiple births. The period of leave can be longer if the employer agrees. The leave can also be taken as two separate periods of a minimum of six weeks but there must be a gap of ten weeks between the two periods, unless a shorter amount of time is agreed with the employer. Both parents have a separate entitlement to parental leave.


Annual Leave & Public Holidays

During the time the employee is on parental leave they are deemed to be working and are entitled to build up annual leave and public holiday entitlements. There is however no entitlement to pay from your employer while on parental leave nor is there any entitlement to any social welfare benefit or assistance.


Entitlement to Parental Leave

The employee must be working for the employer for one year before they can take parental leave. If the child is near the age threshold and the employee has been working for the employer for three months but less than a year, the employee may be entitled to take parental leave on a pro-rata basis of one week for every month worked for that employer. The leave can only be used to look after the child concerned and cannot be used for another purpose. Employers must keep records of all parental leave taken by employees for a period of eight years. Failure to do so could result in the employer being imposed with fines of up to €2,000.


Applying for Parental Leave

The employee must give written notice to the employer at least six weeks before the leave is due to commence and sign a document confirming the details at least four weeks before the leave commences.


Future Changes to Parental Leave

A Directive has recently been adopted by the European Council which will extend the period of parental leave to four months per child. The new provisions are due to be enacted by the member states of the European Union before March 2012. The Department of Justice has confirmed that Ireland are not in a position to implement the changes in Irish legislation by this date and are availing of a one year extension to introduce the directive into Irish law, which accordingly should occur before March 2013.


This information is for guidance purposes only. It does not constitute legal or professional advice. Professional or legal advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from any action as a result of the contents of this publication. No liability is accepted by Hammond Good, Solicitors for any action taken in reliance on the information contained therein. Any and all information is subject to change. For further information on the subject, please contact the author, Joyce A. Good Hammond, at