Extra parental leave

11 August 2021

Since April 2021, working parents receive more support with newborns and adopted children through Ireland’s extra parental leave bill.

Employees have a legal right to take time off to look after their children. This is called parental leave.

Irish legislators state the bill will, “support parents by providing greater flexibility in achieving a work-life balance.” It’s estimated the extension will help up to 60,000 new parents in Ireland and 25,000 new fathers.

Below, you can read about what the new bill means for businesses and how to manage the process for leave requests.

We’ll also look at how extra parental leave can help working parents create a better work-life balance, which in turn can help you protect employee wellbeing and retention.

What is extra parental leave?

Parental leave is a form of statutory family leave, like maternity or shared parental leave. It applies to those with parental responsibility for children up to 18 years of age (regardless of whether they’re adopted or biological children).

Working parents in Ireland get three extra weeks of paid parental leave. This is on top of the extra two weeks' parental leave already set out in employment law.

The extension comes in after the recent passing of the Family Leave and Miscellaneous Provisions Bill 2021.

Extra parental leave legislation

The bill has new legal benefits for both employees and self-employed parents:

  • Additional three weeks of paid parental leave and benefit.
  • Leave period and benefits allowed up to the first two years of the child’s birth or adoption.
  • Adoptive couples choosing which parent will take adoptive leave (with paternal leave and benefits available for the other parent).
  • Adoptive leave and benefit extended to male same-sex couples.

The inclusion of male same-sex couples in the bill means they can now get extra paternity leave, too. This means more adoptive couples can now receive further financial support and work flexibility.

Benefits and entitlements for working parents

The bill means working parents can now receive an extra five weeks of parental leave and benefits. These benefits are available for all those with children born or adopted after 1st November 2019.

It’s vital to remember that both parents have equal entitlement to parental leave. Their gender, sexuality, or whether their child is biological or adopted shouldn’t be a deciding factor.

New parental leave entitlements are at a similar rate to maternity, paternity, and adoptive leave benefits, which is €245 per week.

The new bill can be taken as a non-transferable individual right, but that’s not the only way it can be taken:

  • A non-transferable individual right (i.e. both parents have an entitlement to an equal amount of leave); or
  • An individual right that can be transferred to the other parent; or
  • A family right that parents can divide between themselves as they choose.

All of this means parents can spend more time with their child in their earliest years, without worrying about finances or work issues.

Managing extra parental leave

Employers can face difficulties when dealing with parental leave. More leave requests can mean more business disruption for you.

The legal requirements for maternity, paternity, adoptive, and parental leave all differ. This means some employers could meet problems understanding or trying to comply with them all.

But you must carefully manage them to minimise the impact on employee relations. Remember, the main aim for additional parental leave is to encourage employees to take time off during their child’s early years.

Parental leave policies can show why and how working parents can take leave without worry, stress, or guilt.

When dealing with employees on parental leave, remember:

  • Additional parental leave is only available to employees that have worked for you for at least a year.
  • Their employee rights do not change whilst on additional parental leave (like for contractual notice periods, holiday benefits, and other business entitlements).
  • You don’t have to pay their salary whilst they’re on parental leave (although many employers still do).
  • Be careful not to discriminate against employees on parental leave and seek HR advice on dealing with leave requests.

Get support for extra parental leave with Peninsula

Having clear rules on extra parental leave will allow your workers to request time off, without worrying about any problems on their return.

By providing a sound policy and advice, they can take leave confidently and without stress. This will leave you with a happy and loyal workforce, as well as eliminating employment law breaches or complaints.

Peninsula offers accurate and up-to-date policies for all forms of leave. These policies will help you manage workers who request an additional five weeks' parental leave.

From legal entitlements to day-to-day management, Peninsula can reduce potential disruption to your business.

Peninsula clients also get access to 24/7 HR consultations to provide specialist help on employee relations and wellbeing.

And if you are not yet a client, you can still enjoy free advice from one of our business experts. Simply call us on 1890 252 923.

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