Adoptive Leave

16 April 2019

For some employees, having a child may be the realisation of a lifelong dream. So, this will be an exciting time. You must make this period as stress-free as possible.

As an employer, you have a legal duty to provide your staff with adoptive leave.

Failure to provide your employees with their entitlements can lead to claims being made against you for discrimination and victimisation.

In this guide, we'll discuss what adoptive leave is, your employee's entitlements, and how much money they could receive.

What is adoptive leave?

Adoptive leave is the time off an employee receives when they adopt a child. This is to help both parent and child settle into the new relationship. Employees who adopt children are entitled to this form of leave.

As an employer, you must understand an employee's rights and entitlements during this period.

Who is entitled to adoptive leave?

Employees who can take adoptive leave are known as ‘qualifying adopters’. They can be either:

  1. The sole adopting parent (in the case of someone adopting a child on their own)
  2. The nominated parent (in the case of one parent of an adopting couple).

What happens if you don't let your employees take adoptive leave?

Not allowing your employees to take adoptive leave is discrimination. This should be avoided at all costs.

Employees are protected from discrimination, victimisation, and unfair dismissal. You should never dismiss an employee for using their adoptive rights.

If this is the case, they may raise a claim to the Workplace Relations Commission. This could lead to financial and reputational damages to your company. Employees are protected under the Adoptive Leave Acts.

How are employees protected under the Adoptive Leave Acts?

Under the Adoptive Leave Acts, parents can take time off work when adopting a child. This act was introduced to entitle employees to take leave for child adoption. This is now also open to same-sex partners.

The Acts protect employee entitlements during the period of adoption. However, you need to be familiar with who can take adoptive leave.

 a child playing with bricksa child playing with bricks

How long is adoptive leave in Ireland?

Eligible employees are entitled to a minimum of 24 consecutive weeks of adoptive leave from work. Adoptive leave starts on the date the child is placed with their adoptive parent.

However, the employee must give you at least four weeks’ advance notice in writing detailing their intention to take adoptive leave. They must also provide you with a certificate of placement within four weeks of the adoption starting.

A certificate of placement works as proof and allows the employee to receive their benefit entitlements.

Can adoptive leave be postponed?

Although it’s not a legal requirement, an employee can request adoptive leave to be postponed or delayed. This may be due to the adoption paperwork being delayed.

Allowing this delay is totally up to you, but it is advisable to ensure your working relationship remains strong.

Is adoptive leave paid?

There is no legal requirement for you to pay an employee on adoptive leave. However, you can choose to pay them. This should be included within your employment contract.

Your employees may qualify for a government social welfare payment called Adoptive Benefit.

What is Adoptive Benefit?

Adoptive Benefit is a benefit paid directly to someone who is on adoptive leave from work.

However, not all your employees will qualify. It’s up to the employee to find out what benefits they’re entitled to for adoptive leave.

How do employees qualify for Adoptive Benefit?

To qualify for Adoptive Benefit, your employee must have sufficient Pay Related Social Insurance (PRSI) contributions. This is made up by paying income tax during the tax year and ensuring they pay PRSI regularly.

They must apply for Adoptive Benefit section to the Department of Social Protection. This must be done at least five weeks before they start their adoptive leave. Self-employed workers should apply 12 weeks before.

How much is Adoptive Benefit?

Adoptive Benefit is €250 per week for the duration of the 24 weeks adoptive leave. During adoptive leave, your employee will still receive PRSI credits.

How long is Adoptive Benefit paid?

Eligible employees will be paid Adoptive Benefit for the full 24 weeks of adoptive leave.

However, they won't receive the benefit if adoptive leave begins on a different date than the placement of the child. If the leave starts after the adoption date, some of the benefit will be lost.

Are there different types of leaves available for employees?

Yes, there are different forms of leave available for employees during adoption. You must understand each one fully:

Parental leave

Each adoptive parent is entitled to 26 weeks of unpaid parental leave. However, this leave must be taken before the child is 12 years old (16 years if they have a disability).

They must also have been in continuous employment for at least 12 months,

Paternity leave

Under Irish law, new adoptive parents have the right to take two weeks of paternity leave. This is available to the parent who doesn't take adoptive leave.

You're not legally obliged to pay any employees on paternity leave.

Parent's leave

Each adoptive parent is entitled to seven weeks of parent's leave. This must be taken within the first two years of adoption. You're not entitled to pay your employees for this form of leave.

They can claim parent's benefit from the Department of Social Protection during parent's leave. However, you can choose to add to this as part of your benefits package.

Can an employee take paid time off before adoptive leave starts?

Yes, your employees are entitled to paid time off to attend preparation classes and pre-adoption meetings. Employment rights, such as annual leave are also protected during the period of adoptive leave.

Can employees take additional adoptive leave?

Yes, employees are entitled to take 16 weeks of additional adoptive leave. Some employers choose to pay their employees for adoptive leave.

Employees are also unable to claim Adoptive Benefit during this time.

How to manage adoptive leave in your workplace

As an employer, you have a responsibility to manage adoptive leave in your business. This includes creating an adoptive leave policy, which clearly explains the process employees must take when adopting.

You should always allow employees to take time off work to attend any classes they need. This is part and parcel of adoption.

Any policies should be included within your employment contract.

Get expert advice on adoptive leave with Peninsula

As an employer, you have a legal duty to provide your staff with adoptive leave following the adoption of a child. Alongside this, they may also be entitled to payments known as Adoptive Benefit.

Failure to provide your employees with their entitlements can lead to claims being made against you to the Workplace Relations Commission for discrimination and victimisation.

Peninsula offers 24/7 HR advice which is available 365 days a year. We take care of everything when you work with our HR experts. Want to find out more? Contact us on 0800 051 3687 and book a free consultation with one of our HR consultants.

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