Ireland extends paid parental leave entitlements

Out-Law News | 01 Feb 2021 | 4:06 pm | 1 min. read

The Irish government has approved the extension of parent’s leave and Parent’s Benefit payments from two weeks to five weeks’ leave.

According to a government announcement, the change will entitle parents whose child was born or adopted on or after 1 November 2019 to five weeks’ leave, which they can take at any time in the first two years after the birth or adoption of the child.

Parent’s Benefit, which is paid by the Department of Social Protection is currently €245 a week for two weeks. Once extended, it will be available for five weeks, taken either together or as separate weeks.

The increase is expected to take effect from April 2021 and will apply retrospectively, giving parents who have already taken two weeks’ parent’s leave an extra three weeks in 2021.

Parent’s Benefit is available to individuals who have paid sufficient social insurance contributions in the years preceding the period claimed for.

The previous entitlement was available during the first year of a child’s life, or in the case of adoption, within one year of placement with the family.

Employment law expert Jason McMenamin of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law, said the move would require employers to update their current leave policies.

“Recent surveys have found that the uptake in parent’s leave has been quite low and is not meeting its policy objectives – which is to encourage greater gender equality and work-life balance. We expect that the proposed extension of parent’s leave and Parent’s Benefit will encourage greater uptake by employees, particularly in light of parents having to juggle work and childcare responsibilities during the Covid-19 pandemic,” McMenamin said.

The extension to parent’s leave and Parent’s Benefit follows the gradual increase in the time allowed for unpaid parental leave in Ireland over the last two years.

In September 2020, legislation extending employees’ parental leave entitlements from 22 weeks to 26 weeks came into force. Unpaid parental leave is available for parents of children under 12, or under 16 with a disability or long-term illness.