Out-Law / Your Daily Need-To-Know

Irish firms 'should prepare for introduction of extended parental leave'

Out-Law News | 01 Aug 2019 | 1:53 pm | 1 min. read

The Irish government has announced changes to its parental leave laws, extending the periods of unpaid parental leave and introducing an entitlement for paid leave in the first year of a child’s life.

The extension to unpaid parental leave was announced in this year’s Budget, and comes into force on 1 September. Under the new legislation (2 page / 228KB PDF) the period of unpaid parental leave will be extended from 18 weeks to 22 weeks, and extended again in September 2020 to 26 weeks. Parents will be able to take the leave until their child’s 12th birthday, rather than the 8th birthday as previously, and do not have to use it all at once, as outlined in an unpaid parental leave FAQ published by the Department of Justice.

Ireland is also set to introduce a new social insurance-based parental leave system. The scheme will be available to both parents during their child’s first year, in addition to the two weeks’ paid paternity leave which Ireland introduced in 2016. It is proposed that the parent will be entitled to two weeks' leave, which will be paid by the state.

Ciara Ruane

Ciara Ruane

Senior Associate

There is now a greater awareness of these leave entitlements among employees and employers should update their parental leave policy.

Employment law expert Ciara Ruane of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law, said: "The update of paternity leave has been relatively low in Ireland so it will be interesting to see if these revised entitlements will encourage greater uptake by employees. There is now a greater awareness of these leave entitlements among employees and employers should update their parental leave policy if they have not already done so."

"Employers should be aware that, as with the unpaid extension to parental leave, the paid leave incentive is expected to incrementally rise in value for employees. It is expected that paid parental leave will be extended to seven weeks’ paid leave per parent over the next three years," Ruane said.

The parliament is also in the process of considering legislation to provide an entitlement to bereavement leave to a bereaved parent. The bill (8 page / 414KB PDF) has passed the first stage of its progress through parliament.