Ireland: Parental Leave Entitlements Increased

 

By Kady O’Connell, Ronnie Neville and Melanie Crowley © Mason Hayes & Curran July 11, 2019
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​The Irish Parental Leave (Amendment) Act 2019 has now been signed into law and introduces important changes to parental leave.

Currently, the parents of children aged up to 8 years old are entitled to 18 weeks of unpaid parental leave for each child. The age is extended from 8 to 16 years old if the child has a disability or long-term illness. The same conditions apply for people acting in the place of parents.

Under the new act, employees in Ireland will be entitled to 22 weeks parental leave from Sept. 1, an additional four weeks on current entitlements. This will then increase a further four weeks to 26 weeks as of Sept. 1, 2020.

The act is expected to be commenced by statutory instrument prior to the summer recess.

Paid Parental Leave

Under the Government's Parental Leave Scheme, employees will be also able to use two weeks' paid parental leave benefit during the first 12 months of their baby's life. This change is to take effect as of November.

The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection will pay the parental benefit at the same rate as maternity and paternity benefit, which is currently 245 euros (approximately US $275.70) per week. Individual employers can decide if they want to "top up" the payment to salary level.

The benefit is a nontransferable "use-it-or-lose-it" right, incentivizing fathers to use this statutory benefit during the first 12 months of their baby's life. The government plans to incrementally increase the benefit up to seven weeks by 2021.

Comment 

The Parental Leave (Amendment) Act 2019, and the introduction of paid parental benefit, are important changes for employees with families.

Further changes seeking to introduce more flexibility on how parental leave may be taken have also been proposed as part of a new EU Directive on Work-Life Balance, as discussed in another recent article. It is likely we will see more developments in this area in the future.

In the meantime, employers need to prepare for these changes. In particular, employers should consider whether they intend to top up parental leave benefit. They should also consider revising their parental leave policies and procedures to reflect the new changes.

Kady O'Connell, Ronnie Neville and Melanie Crowley are attorneys with Mason Hayes & Curran in Dublin. © 2019 Mason Hayes & Curran. All rights reserved. Reposted with permission of Lexology.

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