The Parental Leave Act 1998 and (amendment) Act 2006 were introduced to allow working parents leave to look after their children. Parental Leave must be used for this purpose only. If it is found through investigation that the leave was not used for this purpose the employee may be subjected to a disciplinary action. The Act enables both parents to avail of 18 weeks unpaid leave from employment. The leave must be taken before the child is eight years of age, or sixteen years of age in the case of a child with a disability.
- Both parents are entitled to the leave. This leave is non-transferable between the parents, except where both parents work for the same employer. However, this depends on the agreement of the employer.
- In general, employees must be in one years-continuous service to be entitled to take parental leave, with limited exceptions. However, where the child is approaching the age threshold and the employee has more than three months' but less than one year's service with the employer, s/he shall be entitled to pro rata parental leave. In such a case the employee will be entitled to one week's leave for every month of continuous employment completed with the employer when the leave begins.
- Each parent is entitled to 18 weeks leave for each child up to 8 years of age or 16 in the case of a child with a disability.
- This leave may be taken for a continuous period of 18 weeks or in separate blocks of 6 continuous weeks, or more favourable terms with the agreement of the employer. Employers should consider these requests and take into consideration the company’s needs and if the employer is unable to meet the employee’s request for leave, the employer may then decide to grant the leave in broken periods.
- This leave is unpaid but other employee rights remain (except the right to remuneration and superannuation benefits).
- Employers may postpone the leave if it would adversely affect his/her business. However the leave must not be postponed more than 6 months from the original date.
- Should an employee qualify for Parental Leave in respect of more than one child, the employee may not take more than 18 weeks Parental Leave in any 12-month period (unless the employer agrees to it). This restriction does not apply to multiple births e.g. twins.
- An employee who falls ill while on parental leave and as a result is unable to care for the child may suspend the parental leave for the duration of the illness following which period the parental leave recommences.
- Six weeks notice must be given of intention to take Parental Leave.
- The notice must specify the date the employee intends to commence the leave, duration and manner.
- Four weeks before the start of the parental leave, the employer must prepare a “confirmation document” which both employer and employee must sign.
Return to Work
The employee has the right to return to the same job held before the leave and under the same contract, terms and conditions. If this is not reasonably practicable, the employer has to provide suitable alternative employment.
Parental Leave is covered by the Parental Leave Act 1998 (amendment) 2006. Each parent who qualifies for Statutory Parental Leave has a once off entitlement to 18 weeks unpaid leave for each child covered by the Act.
Qualifying Conditions are that you must have one year’s continuous service Parental leave may only be taken up to the time the child attains 8 years of age or 16 years of age in the case of a child with a disability. The parental leave entitlement is not transferable between parents. But for parents who are both working within the company it is transferable on the agreement of the Company.
This leave may be taken for a continuous period of 18 weeks or in separate blocks of 6 continuous weeks, or more favourable terms with the agreement of the employer. If you are a parent with two children of qualifying ages you can only have a 18 weeks leave in any 12 months period. The only exception to this rule is for parents of multiple births; you can use all the Parental Leave entitlement in one year. You are requested to give notification as early as possible but not less than six weeks in advance, to____________ of your intention to take Parental Leave. You will be requested to furnish a copy of the child’s birth certificate along with your application form for Parental Leave. And as far as reasonably practical set out the duration and the manner in which it is proposed to take the leave. You will, not less than 4 weeks prior to your commencement date, be given confirmation of the leave by _____________.
If you have less than one year’s continuous employment and the child will be above the age by which leave must be used, then provided that you have three months continuous employment, you will be entitled to one week for each month of continuous employment.
You may also withdraw your notice to take parental leave prior to the “Confirmation Document” being signed.
Prior to signing the Confirmation Document the company has the right to postpone the granting of parental leave in the following circumstances:
- If the granting of it at a certain time would have a substantial adverse effect on the operation of the business because of seasonal variations in the volume of work,
- The unavailability of a person to carry out the duties of an employee
- The nature of employees in the employment,
- The number of employees already availing of Parental Leave that falls within the period specified in the application,
- Any other relevant matters.
You will be consulted prior to the postponing of Parental Leave. The Parental Leave can be postponed for at most 6 months. At least 4 weeks before the intended commencement date, you will be informed in writing of the postponement.
Leave will not be postponed once the “Confirmation Document” has been signed unless both you and ___________(employer) are in agreement with the postponement.
Termination of the leave will occur, if the leave is not used for the sole purpose of taking care of the child concerned. If it is established that parental leave is being abused, it will be withdrawn by notice in writing setting out the reasons why the leave is being terminated. You may also be subjected to a disciplinary process. If it is established that you are not entitled to Parental Leave, it will be refused by means of a statement in writing setting out the grounds for refusing to grant the leave.
If you are ill while on parental leave and as a result are unable to care for the child, you may with the prior agreement of the company and on forwarding the relevant medical certificates, suspend the parental leave for the duration of the illness following which period the parental leave recommences.
While you are on Parental Leave, you shall retain all employment rights other than the right to remuneration and pension benefits. Annual leave entitlement will not be adjusted in respect of parental leave, and you will retain the entitlement to Public Holidays which fall during a period of the Parental Leave, such holidays can be added on to the period of Parental Leave or take payment in lieu.
You shall also retain the right to return to work to the same position as previously held. Where it is not reasonably practical to return to the job held prior to the commencement of Parental Leave you will be offered suitable alternative employment which will not be less favourable than your current contract of employment.
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