What is Parental Leave?
Parental leave is unpaid leave from work taken by parents [either natural or adoptive parent (male and female) or acting in loco parentis] to look after their young children.
How would an individual qualify for Parental Leave?
To qualify for Parental Leave, a child must be less than eight years of age (or 16 years of age in the case of a child with a disability). Furthermore employees must have 12 months continuous service to available of the parental leave; a proportion of the leave is available to employees with shorter service in certain circumstances.
How is Parental Leave taken?
The parental leave may be taken in separate blocks of a minimum of 6 continuous weeks or, with the agreement of the Company, can be for a number of weeks or days provided it takes account of the operational needs of the business. The Company reserves the right when considering these requests to take the operational needs of the organisation into consideration and to grant (or not grant) leave for blocks less than six (6) weeks. The company may postpone the parental leave on the basis that the leave would have a substantial adverse effect on the operation of the business or due to the number of employee’s taking leave.
Parental leave is not transferable between parents unless both parents work for the same employer. Where both parents work for the same employer, 14 of their 18 weeks parental leave may be transferred, subject to the agreement of the employer.
Can Parental responsibilities be met by making changes to Working Hours?
The new Regulation introduced by Minister Shatter also allows parents returning from parental leave to request a change in their working hours or pattern. The employee should give their request for a change in their working hours as soon as reasonably possible and not later than 6 weeks before the proposed commencement. The employer is required to consider such a request but is not required to grant it. There is no obligation on the employer to furnish reasons as to why the request has been refused.
Where the employer refuses the request, the employer must within 4 weeks of receiving the request, inform the employee in writing that the request has been refused.
Where the changes are granted the employee should be asked to sign an agreement specifying the changes to the employee’s working hours or patterns of work and the duration of same.
Can I find out more?
The change gives effect to EU Council Directive 2010/18/EU of 8/03/2010 which implements a revised Framework Agreement on parental leave concluded by the European Social Partners