Three additional weeks’ leave for working parents

It was announced in last year’s Budget that working parents would be entitled to three weeks of additional parent’s leave. Scheduled for enactment in April 2021, the legislation was finalised last week when the Family Leave and Miscellaneous Provisions Bill 2021 passed all stages in the Dáil.

Below, we take a closer look at the new legislation.

What are the new entitlements?

From April 1st, working parents will benefit from certain extensions to family-friendly leave entitlements. These include:

  • Three weeks of additional paid Parents’ Leave and Benefit to each parent. This is to be taken in the first two years after the birth or adoptive placement of a child.
  • Adopting couples will be able to choose which parent may avail of Adoptive Leave. This includes male same-sex couples who were previously precluded due to an anomaly in legislation.
  • Paternity Leave and Benefit will be made available to the parent who is not availing of adoptive leave.

This new Parent’s Leave entitlement is available to those with children who were born on or after November 1st, 2019. The associated benefit will be paid at the same rate as maternity, paternity, and adoptive benefits.

The Bill is expected to be signed into law by the President this week.

The ‘First-Five’ strategy

2019 saw the introduction of Parent’s Leave. Forming part of the government’s ‘First-Five’ strategy, it aims to support young families through the first five years of their child’s life. Parent’s leave is also non-transferable between parents. This rule is in place to encourage both parents to take time out from work to spend time with their child.

What does the new entitlement mean for employers?

Employers already handle a range of paid family-friendly leave entitlements, the four main ones being:

  • Maternity leave
  • Paternity leave
  • Adoptive leave
  • Parent’s leave

These have different qualification criteria and require careful management to avoid employee relations issues. The entitlements don’t end there. Employers must keep tabs on unpaid parental leave. This is available to employees with children aged up to twelve years of age.

It’s hoped Parent’s Leave will encourage both parents to take time off work during a child’s early years. It’s also expected that the non-transferable nature of the leave will see both mothers and fathers taking Parent’s Leave (of up to five weeks each) during the first two years after a child’s birth.

As always, relevant and useful workplace policies are your best bet when handling family-friendly leave entitlements. These policies provide clarity and are crucial when keeping employers on track when dealing with HR issues such as leave entitlements.

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