Parent’s leave is to increase from two to five weeks and will apply to both parents and adoptive parents under new legislation which comes into effect in April 2021.
HR Team Director, Martina McAuley, said: “Parents in Ireland will be able to take the five weeks of leave at any time within the first two years after a child’s birth or adoption instead of in the one-year period that was previously provided for in the Parent’s Leave and Benefit Act 2019.
“The new legislation means it is now time for employers in Ireland to establish new policies and procedures, or review their existing ones to ensure employment law compliance,” she added.
The new law will have benefits for both employees and employers, Ms McAuley said.
“The increase of parent’s leave entitlement from 2 weeks to 5 weeks will enable employers to retain a more diverse workforce, thus aiding gender diversity and work-life balance. Particularly, those employees with childcare responsibilities will benefit from this increase in leave entitlement. It may also enable employers to more effectively manage employees during the current pandemic, as the use of this type of family leave can be used where necessary.”
Employers advised to update Parent’s Leave policy
“Employers are advised to update their leave policies; in particular their ‘parent’s leave’ policy and procedure,” Ms McAuley said.
“The policy and procedure should be written – ideally in an employee handbook – so that employees have direct access and can fully understand their obligations surrounding how to notify their employer that they wish to book the leave and the associated timeframes. Employees should also be fully informed of the eligibility criteria.
“It is recommended that employers be prepared well in advance to deal with any applications that will arise. It is essential to have established all the answers to potential questions employees may pose by ensuring that your policies and procedures on parent’s leave are entirely up to date and then clearly communicated to all employees,” Ms McAuley added.
The Family Leave Bill, introduced by Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman, will apply to both parents, as well as adoptive parents, is aimed at achieving an improved work-life balance for all parents.
The Minister said: “The extension to parent’s leave and benefit is intended to provide them with an additional period of leave to spend with their child. An important facet of parent’s leave is to encourage the sharing of childcare.”
Under the new legislation, adoptive couples can decide which parent takes up the twenty-four weeks leave, and paves the way for gender equality.
Ms McAuley added: “Parent’s leave can be taken as one continuous period of 2 weeks leave or periods of not less than one week. Employers should receive at least six weeks’ notice of an employee’s intention to take the leave.”