Force Majeure – what you need to know

Force Majeure Leave is provided for in the Parental Leave Acts, 1998 and 2006. What this means is that in the event of a sudden injury or illness that affects a member of the employee’s immediate family and whereby the employee’s presence to assist the family member is indispensable, then the employee is entitled to immediate paid leave for that purpose.


What is the employee entitled to?


An employee is entitled to paid leave for:

  • Up to three days in any twelve-month period
  • Five days in any period of 36 consecutive months

Part days are regarded as a full day even if the employee leaves work one or two hours early. 


What is the scope of immediate family members under force majeure leave?

  • A child/adoptive child of the employee
  • A spouse or person with whom an employee is living as a husband or wife
  • A person to whom the employee is in loco parentis
  • A brother or sister of the employee
  • A parent or grandparent of the employee
  • A person who resides with the employee in a relationship of domestic dependency

Force majeure leave in practice


When referring to force majeure leave in policies or other documentation, it is recommended that businesses use the terms ‘emergency leave’ or ‘emergency family leave’ as it is only granted in these exceptional circumstances.


Due to the nature of this type of leave, no notice can be given, however business should request that the employee document that they availed of force majeure leave when they return to work. This form should include:

  • The employee's name and PPS number
  • The employer's name and address
  • The name and address of the person to whom the leave relates
  • The relationship of this person to the employee and the nature of the illness or injury
  • The dates on which the leave is taken
  • A confirmation that the emergency leave was taken for urgent family reasons arising from the illness or injury which rendered the presence of the employee indispensable

It should be noted that these notices should be held on the employee file for one year and as the information contains sensitive personal data, the business would need to ensure the notice is properly safeguarded in line with GDPR.


Force majeure leave needs to be assessed on a case by case basis and the following pointers should be considered:

  • Each case must be assessed on its own merits
  • No illness is too small – the decision to grant force majeure leave must be based on the facts as they appeared at the time of the incident giving rise to the claim rather than viewing the circumstances in hindsight and taking into account the ultimate seriousness or otherwise of the illness
  • Force majeure leave is not intended to provide child-minding facilities;
  • It cannot be pre-scheduled
  • The employee must be at the place where the injured/ill person is situated

Force majeure leave specifically excludes bereavements. There is no statutory entitlement to paid time off resulting from a family bereavement, however, many businesses do have a policy granting some leave in this regard.


For further information on force majeure leave and other HR issues, please contact Helen Quinn on or 01 605 1668.

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