The Parental (Amendment) Act 2019
Parental leave is entirely separate to maternity benefit and entitles both parents to take unpaid leave from work to spend time looking after their children. Eligible parents may avail of unpaid Parental Leave additional to their paid Maternity Leave and paid statutory Annual Leave in order to assist them in raising their young families while maintaining their employment.
Parental leave can be used in a variety of ways; a continuous period of leave, two separate blocks (must be a minimum of 6 weeks each) or if your employer consents, it may be split into working days and/or hours.
Your employer cannot refuse parental leave to an eligible parent. While you are not entitled to be paid during this leave, you are still employed and all other employment rights will stand.
The Parental Leave (Amendment) Act 2019 introduces several changes to parental entitlements in this area. Prior to this amendment, eligible parents were entitled to 18 weeks of unpaid leave per eligible child and the leave had to be taken prior to the childs eighth birthday.
The main changes introduced by the 2019 act which came into effect from the 1st of September 2019 are as follows;
- Parents can now avail of 22 weeks of unpaid Parental Leave per eligible child (increased from 18 weeks).
- The age of eligible children is increased from 8 years to 12 years, meaning the leave must can now be taken up to the date of the childs 12th
From September 2020 the act will allow for 26 weeks of unpaid parental leave per eligible child. The increase is being introduced on a phased basis in order to allow employers to adapt to the change.
Ireland currently offers one of the lowest levels of Parental Leave in the E.U and these amendments aim to bring Ireland further in line with EU standards.