Parental Leave in Ireland Explained

Last Updated on June 13, 2023

Life as a family is full of surprises and as a parent, we always want to provide the best opportunities for our children’s development. Parental leave is a great initiative for parents in Ireland to spend time with their children when they need it the most. When you have situations in life where you want to be there for your child as a parent, parental leave gives you the safety of keeping your job and to take a few weeks off to spend time with your child.

Parental Leave 2023

What is parental leave? 

Parental leave is an unpaid leave from work for parents. This regulation supports parents to look after their children while keeping their job secure. 
The Parental Leave Act of 2019 increased parental leave from September 2020 to 26 weeks.

Who is entitled to parental leave?

Each parent in Ireland is entitled to take parental leave from work. Parental leave is not shared between parents. Each parent is eligible for the full leave of 26 weeks. 
Parental leave is available to mothers, fathers, adoptive parents and a parent acting in loco parentis (acting as a parent to the child). To qualify for parental leave you have to work for your employer for a minimum duration of one year.

How long is parental leave in Ireland? 

Parental leave is for 26 weeks per eligible child. You have to take parental leave before your child’s 12th birthday or in case of disability, before your child’s 16th birthday. 

How to take parental leave:
1. All at once 
2. In 2 blocks of a minimum of 6 weeks each. There has to be a gap of a minimum of 10 weeks between block 1 and block 2. 
3. Depending on your employers’ approval: spread it out over weeks for a day or a few hours each week. Your employer has the right to refuse this option.

Can I take parental leave for more than 1 child?

If you have more than one child, there are a few extra regulations to be aware of. Firstly, you are entitled to the full amount of parental leave for each of your children. If you have 3 children this would equal to 78 weeks of parental leave. However, if you have more than one child, you can take only up to 18 weeks of parental leave per year unless your employer approves a longer period.
Parents of twins and triplets can take more leave than 18 weeks per year.

Is parental leave paid?

No, parental leave is not paid.
For parents of newborns or new adoptive parents, there are various paid leaves available in Ireland. Maternity leave ensures mothers can spend time with their newborns, paternity leave is for fathers or partners of the mother to spend time with the new child, adoptive leave is for one of the parents who have adopted a child and parents leave is an additional leave to take within the early years of a child’s life. 

How do I apply for parental leave? 

To apply for parental leave you need to inform your employer in writing at least 6 weeks prior to your leave. In your notice, you should include the start date, duration of your leave and the manner in which you propose to take the leave. 
Your employer should sign a confirmation form with you 4 weeks before your leave. Lastly, to protect your tax contributions for the period of your leave, your employer needs to state at the Records Section of the Department of Social Protection the weeks you have not worked. This will ensure PRSI contributions are accredited to you for the time of your leave.

Does parental leave affect my annual leave? 

When you are on parental leave, your annual leave rights are not affected. While you are on parental leave you build up annual leave as if you were working. If there are any public holidays during your parental leave, you are entitled to take them. You can add them to the end of your parental leave. 

Can I take parental leave one day a week?

If your employer consents, you can take parental leave for one or multiple days a week or a few hours a week. However, your employer does not have to agree to this broken up way of parental leave. If your employer refuses, take parental leave in 1 or 2 continuous blocks.

How much parental leave am I entitled to if I work part-time?

As a part-time worker, your parental leave entitlement is 26 weeks. Parental leave is not affected by the amount of days/hours you work per week.  

Can parental leave be refused?

Unless you do not qualify for parental leave, your employer cannot refuse your leave. Your employer has the right to postpone the start of your parental leave for up to 6 months. Once your employer has signed the confirmation form, they cannot postpone your parental leave unless you cooperatively reach a new written agreement. Your leave can be postponed up to 2 times but there must be a valid reason such as seasonal demands or no available cover.

For more information visit citizens information.