Extension to parental leave in Ireland from this month

Recent changes to Parental Leave in Ireland mean that parents now have an additional 4 weeks per child of unpaid parental leave.

This leave can allow parents greater flexibility to work, while also being able to spend more time with their children. While there are financial sacrifices to make, these are often not as large as many fear (see Irish Times article: ‘Earn more than you think while working less’).
If it is financially viable, the cut in pay can be well worth it. If your child is very young they can really benefit from extra time with their parents at this crucial bonding time, in fact the government’s new strategy for children ‘First Five’ sets out the goal to help parents spend most of a child’s first year with them, and indeed for less need for full-time childcare for the under 3’s.
For older children who may be going through a bad patch, taking the time to slow down and spend more time together can certainly benefit your child. There are benefits for parents too, in terms of reducing the stress of trying to care for children while working full time. These benefits filter down to the whole family and can lead to a greater quality of life overall.
In Ireland a lot of child care falls to women and there is a need to encourage fathers to avail of parental leave also, and for society to accept father’s role in this regard, giving them the space to provide care for their children also. This is the model in some other countries and seems to be where we are headed eventually.

So what are your entitlements?

Parental leave entitles parents to take unpaid leave from work to spend time looking after their children.
Since 1 September 2019, you can take 22 weeks of parental leave for each eligible child. You must take parental leave before your child’s 12th birthday.
Before 1 September 2019, parental leave was 18 weeks for each eligible child and parents could only take parental leave before a child’s 8th birthday.

Citizens Information website, 16th Sept 2019 www.citizensinformation.ie

This is due to increase by a further 4 weeks in September 2020. There is also a plan to introduce paid parental leave, beginning with 2 weeks per parent, in a child’s first year.

Many parents use parental leave to reduce their working week (if an employer can facilitate this) or else in blocks, for example following maternity leave, or over summer holidays. The exact configuration must be agreed with your employer, however once your request is within the rules of parental leave an employer cannot turn it down. See full rules here: https://www.citizensinformation.ie/en/employment/employment_rights_and_conditions/leave_and_holidays/parental_leave.html


Jane Beatty

KCCC Communications Officer