Family Rights

Family Leave for New Children

There is a range of family-related rights for employees. They range from rights in respect of maternity and adoption to parental and carers leave.

There is a statutory right to 26 weeks of maternity leave together with a further 16 weeks of additional unpaid maternity leave. Generally at least two weeks must be taken before the birth and four weeks afterwards. Maternity benefit is payable by the Department of Social Protection provided the employee has paid the requisite social insurance contributions.

Generally, 39 weeks’ contributions are required in the previous year or the penultimate year or 26 weeks in the relevant year and in the preceding year. The payments are capped at the higher social protection weekly rates and may be substantially less than the employment salary

Prior notice of exercising maternity rights must be given. There is a right to return to the same job or in some circumstances to an equivalent job were the same job is not available. There are associated rights in respect of time off for prenatal appointments et cetera

The paternity leave legislation provides for two continuous weeks paid leave respect of births. The social insurance contributions are the same. The paid leave is at the higher social protection rates may be substantially less than the salary.

There are broadly equivalent analogous rights in respect of adoption for adopting parents. They may be exercised by the adopting mother or mail adopter in some circumstances.

The leave can be taken in a 26 week period following the birth of the child or placement the case of adoption.

Parental / Carers Leave

Statutory parental leave must be taken before the child’s eight years of age or 16 years in the case of children with disabilities or long-term illness. The employee must generally have one years’ continuous service in order to qualify. The leave is unpaid. There is a maximum of 18 weeks of leave per child.

Parental leave legislation also provides for so-called emergency or force majeure leave to do with family emergencies resulting from injury or illness of a family member. It is up to a maximum of three days in a 12 month period of five days in a 26 month

Carers leave is broader than the above types of family leave and is not limited to care for an immediate family member. There is a statutory right for an employee to take unpaid leave from employment to allow him personally to provide full-time care and attention to a person who needs such care. The minimum entitlement is 13 weeks and the maximum is 104 weeks.

Generally, a person may qualify for carers leave if he has at least 12 continuous months service with the employer prior to the leave taken. The leave must be used to actually care for the person concerned personally. There are limited exceptions in relation to taking up employment or training courses for up to 15 hours per week, limited self-employment from home or limited employment outside the home for up to 15 weeks subject to conditions.

Leave must be taken in one continuous period of four weeks for one or more periods amounting to 104 weeks. The minimum taken in one period is 13 weeks. An employer may refuse on reasonable grounds to consent to the employee taking carers leave for a period of fewer than 13 weeks.

The notice must be given at least six weeks before the proposal to take leave. It must give certain particulars. The employee must apply to the Department of Social Protection for a decision that he or she qualifies as a carer with evidence medically certified as to the requirement for care and attention.

The employer and employee must prepare confirmation documents containing particulars of the duration of the leave. A carer may qualify for carers benefit or allowance depending on contributions or other circumstances