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Parents’ Leave and Benefit Act – additional entitlements from November 2019

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On November 1st, new legislation was introduced under the Parent’s Leave and Benefit Act 2019. According to the act, new working parents can now claim two weeks of paid leave from the State if their child was born or adopted after the 1st November 2019. This is in addition to maternity and paternity leave and distinct from unpaid parental leave entitlements.

The Government intends to increase the length of the paid parents’ leave up to seven weeks by 2021. All of this is good news. But what is the difference between parents’ leave and parental leave? And what exactly is each new parent now entitled to?

Parents’ leave and parental leave entitlements

Parents’ leave refers specifically to the legislation introduced on November 1st this year and entitles new parents to two weeks leave, paid for by the State at a rate of €245 per week. Each parent must avail of the entitlement within the first 52 weeks since the birth or adoption of the child.

The intention is to increase the benefit payment rate by 2021, although the increased rate is yet to be confirmed. The legislation will provide paid parents’ leave for employees and individuals who are self-employed.

Parental leave refers to 22 weeks unpaid leave. All parents are also entitled to take this leave, in one block or two, unless otherwise agreed with an employer, before their child is twelve years old. In September 2020, this will increase to 26 weeks.

How does parents’ leave affect maternity and paternity leave entitlements?

The introduction of parents’ leave means new fathers or relevant parents, can take up to four weeks paid leave between paternity leave and parents’ leave, two of which must be taken within the first six months and the following two must be taken within the first year of the child being born or adopted.

New mothers and primary caregivers are now entitled to 28 weeks of paid leave between maternity leave and parents’ leave. This leave must be taken within the first year of the child being born or adopted. Mothers and primary caregivers are also entitled to take an additional 16 weeks unpaid maternity leave beginning immediately after paid maternity leave ends.

Notes for employers

Employees must provide employers with 6 weeks notice, in writing, if they intend to take parents’ leave. This is the same for maternity leave, paternity leave and parental leave. Employers are under no obligation to pay employees during the two weeks’ parents’ leave, the €245 benefit is paid by the State.

Employers can, in extenuating circumstances, ask an employee to postpone parents’ leave, where the leave will negatively affect business operations. Employees must be given at least 4 weeks’ notice in these circumstances.

For further information on Parental Leave contact Marc Fitzgibbon Senior Partner, mfitzgibbon@lavellepartners.ie or 01 6445800.