The Parental Leave (Amendment) Act 2019 came into effect on 19 July and it increases the number of weeks each parent can avail of and the age threshold of the child. The changes are as follows:
- Each parent now qualifies for 22 weeks parental leave from 1 September 2019. They can apply for the leave now and the leave can commence from 1 September 2019.
- The age threshold of the child has increased from eight years to 12 years. The age threshold has remained at 16 years for a child with a disability.
The result of these changes means that parents who have used some or all of their parental leave by the time the child reached eight years of age have now come back into scope. This means that those parents are now entitled to take the extra and/or additional parental leave in one week blocks. This new change applies to the following scenarios:
- Employees who took all of their 18 weeks parental leave before their child reached 8 years are now back in scope due to the increased age threshold.
- Employees who took some of their parental leave but did not use all of their entitlement before the child reached eight years can now take those outstanding weeks plus the additional weeks before the child reaches 12 years of age.
Parents who have never taken any parental leave are entitled to take the parental leave as follows:
- a continuous block of 22 weeks
- two separate periods of a minimum of six weeks each. If the leave is taken in this manner there must be at least ten weeks between each separate period of leave taken
- With the agreement of the employer the parental leave may be broken into hours or days
The amount of parental leave will increase to 26 weeks on 1 September in 2020. The SFA guideline on parental leave and force majeure has been updated to reflect these changes and businesses can download the sample parental leave policy here.
In addition to this new change, from 1 November 2019, the new Parental Leave and Benefit Bill 2019 will come into force. This is a paid type of leave that will give each parent two weeks paid parental leave that must be taken within the first year of the child’s life. The government have stated they will extend this leave to seven weeks by 2021. The increases will be announced in the budget. The payment for this leave is €245 per week and it will be paid for by the State.
The main points from the new bill are that:
- Each parent will be entitled to the leave where the birth date of the child falls on or after 1 November 2019 or the day of placement in the case of adoption if it is on or after 1 November 2019.
- An employee must have 12 months continuous service to qualify.
- The leave cannot be transferred between parents except in the case where one parent dies then all or the remaining leave is transferred to the other parent.
- The parental leave operates on a use it or lose it basis.
- The parental leave cannot be taken before the date of birth or in the case of adoption, before the date of placement.
- Employees can take the leave in one week blocks.
- It is protected leave so employees accrue annual leave and public holiday entitlements and all their other conditions of employment remain the same when they return to work.
- The employee must give their employer a minimum of four weeks written notice of their intention to take this leave (This notice period may change).
We will be discussing these changes in depth at the SFA Employment Law Seminar on 3 October in Limerick and 17 October in Dublin. Book your place before 31 August and avail of our early bird rate.