The change took effect on 1 September 2020 and entitles employees to take up to 26 weeks’ unpaid leave to look after their children.
The entitlement to take parental leave applies to employees with at least one year's continuous employment with their employer. There is, however, also a pro-rata entitlement for employees who have worked more than three months with their employer and their child is near the age threshold.
Eligible parents will be able to take parental leave if they have a child who is under 12, or who is under 16 with a disability or long-term illness. Adoptive parents can also take leave for up to two years after the date of the adoption order if their child was adopted between the ages of 10 and 12.
Eligible parents who had used all or part of their parental leave entitlement prior to 1 September 2020 are still entitled to the extra four weeks of leave provided for by the legislation, so long as their child is still under the qualifying ages.
Employment law expert Ciara Ruane of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law, said employers should consider updating their parental leave policy if they have not already done so to take into account the increase from 1 September.
The rules were enacted through Ireland’s Parental Leave (Amendment) Act 2019 in May last year, extending parents’ parental leave entitlement from 18 weeks to 22 weeks from 1 September 2019 before the further extension this year.