Budget 2016 saw new parental leave entitlements being announced.
Statutory paternity leave of two weeks was announced and is to take effect in September 2016. This will be paid at a rate of €230 per week and will be based on the same prsi requirements as maternity leave.
Up to now most men would have to take unpaid leave-with the employer’s agreement-or holidays.
Parental leave has been available to men and women since 1998 but the uptake amongst men is as low as 5% because it is unpaid.
Employers should consider drawing up paternity leave policies for the new regime to set out how the employee can apply, and other details.
Prior to this change, the entitlement to parental leave in Ireland changed on 8th March, 2013 when the EU Parental Leave Directive 2010/18/EU was transposed into Irish law.
The Irish Government indicated prior to that they would be publishing a new Family Law Bill which will bring all existing family leave legislation into one Act.
This new Family Law Bill will therefore cover carer’s leave, parental leave, maternity leave, and adoptive leave.
Parental Leave Changes March 2013
Here is a summary of the changes in relation to parental leave when EU Parental Leave Directive 2010/18/EU is transposed into Irish law on 8th March, 2013.
UPDATE 8th March, 2013
Statutory Instrument no. 81 of 2013, European Union (Parental Leave) Regulations 2013, transpose EU directive 2010/18 EU into Irish law with effect from 8th March, 2013.
Click on the link above to read the regulations.
Summary of EU Parental Leave Directive 2010/18/EU
Workers are entitled to parental leave on the birth or adoption of a child. Such leave may be taken until the child has reached an age determined by national law and/or collective agreements, but before the age of eight.
This Directive applies equally to all workers, men and women, irrespective of their type of employment contract (open-ended, fixed-term, part-time or temporary).
Parental leave shall be granted now for up to 18 weeks.(See Parental Leave Regulations, 2013 above)
In principle, workers should be able to take all of their leave. It should therefore not be transferable from one parent to the other. However, such transfers may be authorised on condition that each parent retains at least one of the four months of leave.
Taking of leave
The conditions of access to leave and adaptability of leave shall be defined by national law and/or collective agreements. For example, European Union (EU) States and/or social partners may:
• adapt leave to the needs of parents and employers, by granting leave on a full-time or part-time basis, in a piecemeal way or in the form of a time-credit system;
• make this right subject to a length of service qualification which shall not exceed one year. Where appropriate, that period shall be calculated taking account of all of the successive fixed-term contracts concluded with the same employer;
• authorise the postponement of leave by the employer, for justifiable reasons related to the organisation;
• authorise special arrangements to ensure the proper operation of small undertakings.
Workers wishing to take parental leave must give notice to the employer. The period of notice shall be specified in each EU country taking into account the interests of workers and of employers.
Each EU country shall also be encouraged to define additional measures and/or the specific conditions for the taking of leave by adoptive parents and parents of children with a disability or a long-term illness.
Section 11 of the Parental Leave Act, 1998 allows the employer to postpone the leave for “substantial reasons” (“would have a substantial adverse effect on the operation of his or her business, profession or occupation”).
Transfer of leave between parents:
Where 2 or more parents in respect of a child are entitled to parental leave in respect of the child and the parents are each employed by the same employer, then each relevant parent shall, subject to the consent of the employer concerned, be entitled to transfer part, not exceeding 14 working weeks, of the period of his or her parental leave to any other relevant parent in respect of the child.
Return to work and non-discrimination
After taking parental leave, workers shall have the right to return to the same job. If that is not possible, the employer must offer them an equivalent or similar job consistent with their employment contract or employment relationship.
In addition, rights acquired or in the process of being acquired by the worker on the date on which parental leave starts:
• shall be maintained as they stand until the end of the leave;
• shall apply at the end of the leave, as shall all changes arising from national law, collective agreements and/or practice.
Similarly, workers shall be protected against less favourable treatment or dismissal on the grounds of an application for, or the taking of, parental leave.
All matters regarding social security and income in relation to parental leave are for determination by EU States and/or national social partners. The Agreement does not therefore contain any stipulations concerning the payment of salary or compensation during parental leave.
Finally, on their return from leave, workers must be able to request changes to their working hours and/or patterns for a set period of time. Employers shall consider and respond to such requests, taking into account both employers’ and workers’ needs.
Leave on grounds of force majeure
Workers may also request leave on grounds of force majeure for family reasons.
Such leave may be requested in particular in cases of sickness or accident making the immediate presence of the worker within the family indispensable.
Even though force majeure leave is included in the Parental Leave Act, 1988 it is paid leave while parental leave is unpaid.
This Directive introduces the revised Framework Agreement concluded by the European social partners on 18 June 2009. This Agreement follows the Framework Agreement of 14 December 1995 on parental leave.
Breach of the Parental Leave Act, 1998 can see a Rights Commissioner awarding up to 20 weeks remuneration in compensation to the employee (Section 21 of the Parental Leave Act, 1998)