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Leave Entitlements for Working Parents in Ireland 2023 

Employment Rights for Parents in Ireland

In Ireland, there are various leave entitlements specifically designed to support working parents, and it is crucial for all employers to be familiar with these options. It’s important to note that some parents may be eligible for leave under multiple schemes simultaneously.


Maternity Leave

All female employees are entitled to 26 weeks of maternity leave if they become pregnant. This applies to all employment arrangements, whether full-time, part-time, or casual, regardless of the duration of your employment with the company. When it comes to planning, remember that maternity leave must be taken at least 2 weeks before your baby’s due date, but not earlier than 16 weeks before and at least 4 weeks after your baby is born.

Here’s some financial support to make your journey smoother – employees are eligible for Maternity Benefits during the 26 weeks of maternity leave, based on a certain level of Pay Related Social Insurance (PRSI) contributions. Currently, Maternity Benefit is set at €250 per week. Just keep in mind that this benefit is taxable income, and the tax is collected by adjusting your tax credits and allowances.

While employers aren’t obligated to pay you during maternity leave, you also have the right to take an additional 16 weeks of unpaid maternity leave. Some employers may choose to provide payment during maternity leave. In this case, employers can reclaim the employee’s maternity benefit provided by the State.


Paternity Leave

As a new parent, you have an entitlement to two weeks of paternity leave, whether it’s after the birth or adoption of your child. It’s important to note that your employer isn’t obligated to provide payment during this paternity leave period. However, the good news is that you have the flexibility to take paternity leave any time within six months after your child’s birth.

For those who are adopting, paternity leave applies to the parent who is not taking adoptive leave.

Qualifying employees are entitled to paternity benefit, which currently stands at €250 per week for the two weeks of leave, paid by the State. Like maternity leave, some employers may choose to pay their employees during this leave period and then recover their state entitlements.


Adoptive Leave

When it comes to adopting a child, one of the adoptive parents is entitled to 24 weeks of adoptive leave, starting from the day the child is placed with them. While employers aren’t obliged to pay during this leave, the good news is that employees may qualify for adoptive benefits paid by the State. And that’s not all – employees can also opt for up to 16 weeks of additional unpaid adoptive leave.

During adoptive leave, employees can receive €250 per week, but this payment is limited to the first 24 weeks after the child is placed. If the leave begins after the placement date, the entitlement for the full 24 weeks will be reduced accordingly. For example, if the leave starts in week 4, the entitlement will be for 21 weeks.

Employers who choose to pay employees during this leave will treat it similarly to salary pay on maternity leave.


Parental Leave

As of September 2020, parents and legal guardians in Ireland are entitled to take up to 26 weeks of unpaid leave, known as Parental Leave. This leave is available until the child reaches 12 years old, or for children with disabilities, it extends until the child turns 16.

To ensure a smooth process, employees are required to provide their employers with six weeks’ notice before taking parental leave. Typically, this leave should be taken either as one continuous period or in blocks of at least six weeks, unless otherwise agreed upon.

Keep in mind that to be eligible for parental leave, you must have been employed by your current employer for a minimum of 12 months. There is no entitlement to financial support from either your employer or the State during this leave.


Parent’s Leave

In November 2019, the Irish government introduced a new entitlement through the Parent’s Leave and Benefit Act 2019 (later amended by the Family Leave and Miscellaneous Provisions Bill 2021). This legislation is in line with the government’s dedication to the EU Work-Life Balance Directive, focusing on giving parents the chance to enjoy precious moments with their little ones by offering them more quality time together.

Eligible parents with children up to two years of age can now enjoy an extra 5 weeks of paid leave each, supplemented by the State’s parent’s benefit, currently set at €250 per week. While employers are not obligated to pay during this leave, some organisations may opt to do so, later reclaiming the State benefits on behalf of their employees.

In the Budget 2022, Parent’s Leave was extended to 7 weeks. So, whether you have a child under 2 years old in July 2022 or an adopted child who has been placed with the family for less than 2 years as of July 2022, you can reap the benefits of this leave.

Parent’s leave can be taken either as a continuous period of 5-7 weeks or in separate blocks, each lasting no less than one week. However, keep in mind that the leave cannot be transferred between parents, except in specific, predefined circumstances, such as the unfortunate demise of one of the parents.

To ensure a seamless process, it is required that employers receive at least 6 weeks’ notice before the commencement of the leave. While employers cannot decline this leave, they do possess the ability to defer it if they anticipate a “substantial adverse effect on the operation of their business, profession, or occupation.” Postponements are limited to a maximum of 12 weeks from the requested leave date.


Eligible individuals for Parent’s Leave include:

  • Parents of children
  • Spouses, civil partners, or cohabitants of the parents of the child
  • Parents of a donor-conceived child
  • Adopting parents or parents of a child
  • Spouses, civil partners, or spouses of the adopting parents (if the parents have not adopted jointly)


As an employer, it is important that you comply with this legislation on unpaid leave entitlements. This HRLocker Unpaid Leave Entitlements Policy Template has been created so that you can adapt the policy to your company’s needs.

Unpaid Leave Entitlements Policy Template

State Benefits

In most cases, working parents can count on state benefits during their leave periods. To access these benefits, employees need to apply directly to the Department of Employment and Social Protection. It’s essential to include a certificate signed by the employer, confirming the employee’s employment and entitlements for the benefit. Just keep in mind that these benefits are subject to a certain level of PRSI contributions.

While employers aren’t obliged to pay employees during these periods, some companies may choose to do so. And those employers who offer compensation during this time might be entitled to reclaim the employee’s state benefit as a result. It’s a win-win situation for both parties!

Leave Entitlements for Working Parents in Ireland 2023  was last modified: March 1st, 2024 by Beatriz Araujo

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