This is a type of statutory leave which was introduced by the Adoptive Leave Act 1995 to afford female employees and, in certain circumstances, male employees, time off from their employment when adopting a child. The entitlement generally only applies to female employees except in the case where a male is the sole adopter or, in the scenario where the female adoptive parent has died, in the course of adoptive proceedings.

An employee is entitled to 24 weeks adoptive leave and while this is unpaid by the employer, the employee may be entitled to Adoptive Benefit through Social Welfare if they have built up enough PRSI contributions. An employee is also entitled to take an additional unpaid 16 weeks of adoptive leave which is unpaid both by the employer and by the state.

Before the adoption takes place, the employee is entitled to paid time off work for any pre-adoption meetings or preparation classes. The employee continues to accrue annual leave during adoptive leave and retain his or her Public Holiday entitlement which he or she gets the benefit of at the end of their adoptive leave.