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What is Parent’s Leave?

The Parent’s Leave and Benefit Act 2019 provides two weeks of statutory leave for a relevant parent within the first year of a child’s life, or in the case of adoption, within one year of the placement of the child with the family. Each parent is entitled to 2 weeks paid parent’s leave for a child born or adopted on or after 1 November 2019. The leave period remains the same in the case of multiple births, for example, if you have twins or if you adopt 2 or more children at the same time.

Parent’s Leave is available to both employees and people who are self-employed. Parent’s Benefit is paid while you are on Parent’s Leave from work if you have enough social insurance (PRSI) contributions. Employees who qualify for Parent’s Benefit receive €245 each week.

Changes from April 2021

  • The current 2 weeks’ Parent’s Leave and Parent’s Benefit will increase to 5 weeks for each parent (if an employee qualifies).
  • Employees will be able to take Parent’s Leave during the first 2 years of their child’s life (or 2 years from adoption)
  • Employees can take 5 weeks together or take separate weeks of leave.

The increase is available for any child born or adopted on or after 1 November 2019. The legislation to bring these changes into effect is underway.

What is the difference between Parental Leave and Parent’s Leave?

Parental Leave entitles parents to take unpaid leave from work to spend time looking after their children. Since 1 September 2020, both parents can take up to 26 weeks of Parental Leave. 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.

Parent’s Leave is paid leave for employees to be taken within the first year of a child being born (changing to two years from April 2021). The increase from 2 weeks benefit to 5 weeks benefit 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. This benefit is available to individuals who have paid sufficient social insurance contributions in the years preceding the period claimed for.

Will employees take up this benefit?

The Sunday Business Post reported this week that the Irish government expects just 39% of parents to take up their new entitlement to extra paid parental leave. The state-funded leave will amount to €245 per week and will not be topped up for any public sector workers or most private-sector workers.

As a result, the government is expecting only to have to pay for 39,000 of the estimated 99,000 working parents that could qualify annually, which is 39% of the total.

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