Extension of Parental Leave
******* On 8 March 2013 regulations giving effect to EU Directive 2010/18/EU on parental leave increased the amount of parental leave available to each parent per child from 14 weeks to 18 weeks. The Department of Education & Skills circular letter 0026/2013 now reflects these new changes.*******
Under the terms of the Parental Leave Acts 1998 and 2006, the EU Directive 2010/18/EU and circular letter 0026/2013 a teacher who is the natural/adoptive/adopting parent or acting in loco parentis to a child shall be entitled to parental leave for a period of 18 working weeks. The period of parental leave is unpaid. The purpose of the leave is to enable a parent to take care of his/her child. In the case of an adopted child, where the child was born on or after December 3, 1993 and the adoption order was made after December 3, 1993 the adoptive parents are entitled to avail of parental leave. In accordance with circular letter 0021/2012 a period of parental leave shall end:
- Not later than the day on which the child concerned attains the age of thirteen years, or
- In the case of an adopted child, where the child is eleven years or more but less than thirteen, the parental leave must be taken within two years from the adoption order, or
- Both natural and adoptive parents of children with a disability up to the age of 16 years.
ELIGIBILITY FOR PARENTAL LEAVE
- A teacher must have completed one years continuous teaching service before s/he can take parental leave. This requirement is waived in the case of a teacher compulsorily redeployed into a school provided that s/he has completed one year's continuous employment in her/his former school before being redeployed.
- In circumstances where, on the latest day for commencing a period of parental leave, the teacher has less than one year but more than three months continuous teaching service with the employer from whose employemnet the leave is to be taken, the teacher shall be entitled to parental leave for a period of one weekfor each month of continuous service completed with his/her employer at the time of commencement of the leave.
- A teacher who is on or due to be placed on a panel for redeployment may not apply for parental leave beyond the end of the school year in which his/her post is to be withdrawn.
- Where a teacher is on a fixed term contract and the contract would have terminated at the end of this fixed term the parental leave period shall not extend beyond the day on which the term expires.
- A teacher resuming duty after career break of two full school years or more and who applies for parental leave must submit a certificate of fitness to resume teaching duty before s/he may be granted parental leave.
- Teachers on parental leave may not engage in any type of teaching.
- The managerial authority may employ a replacement teacher for the period during which a teacher is absent on unpaid parental leave.
PERIOD OF PARENTAL LEAVE AVAILABLE
- Parental leave shall consist of 18 weeks unpaid leave for each child born on or after 3rd December, 1993. Where a teacher is entitled to parental leave for more than one child and the children are not children of multiple birth, the period of leave taken in any period of 12 months shall not, without the consent of the managerial authority, exceed 18 weeks. In the case of multiple births this restriction does not apply.
- A teacher may avail of parental leave in blocks of at least 1 week up to a maximum of 18 weeks. Please note each period of parental leave must be a minimum duration of 7 consecutive days including weekends, school closures and days on which a teacher is not timetabled for attendance occurring within that period.
- Where a teacher applies for parental leave for 6 or more weeks, the minimum period which must be granted by the employer is 6 weeks except in the cases of postponement and refusal of parental leave.
- In certain circumstances a teacher may avail of parental leave in the form of individual days where a child has particular medical problems that require the attendance of a parent with the child at a hospital, clinic or therapeutic appointment on a regular basis. In such cases certification from employer and retained on the teacher's personnel file.
NOTIFICATION REQUIRED TO AVAIL OF PARENTAL LEAVE
- A teacher must apply to his/her managerial authority as soon as is reasonably practicable but not later than six weeks prior to the proposed commencement date of the leave. The application must specify the date the teacher intends to commence the leave, the duration of the leave and the manner in which the teacher proposes to take the leave and the teacher's signature. The application should be made on the prescribed application form which is attached at Appendix A of circular letter 0026/2013.
- Not later than four weeks before the commencement of the leave, the managerial authority and teacher must prepare the "confirmation document" attached at Appendix B of the circular. This document constitutes a legal agreement between the parties. A teacher may revoke the application at any point prior to the signing of the confirmation document by both parties.
POSTPONEMENT OF PARENTAL LEAVE
Parental leave may be postponed in circumstances where granting the leave at that time would have a substantial adverse effect on the operation of the school and ordinarily the leave may only be postponed once.
In such circmstances the employer is obliged to:
- consult with the teacher prior to any decision to postpone the leave
- where the postponement is deemed necessary, notify the teacher in writing not later than 4 weeks before the intended date of the commencement of the leave
- ensure that the postponement is not any longer than 6 months from the original date on which the parental leave was due to commence
- agree a new date for the postponed leave to be taken at a time when the teacher would otherwise have been working
- ensure that any further or subsequent postponement can only be permitted on the grounds where it affects seasonal variation
- ensure that new confirmation documents agreeing to the new revised dates are signed by both parties with the understanding that this can be further amended provided there is agreement between both parties
- Where solely as a result of posdtponement of the leave a child passes the age threshold, the entitlement to parental leave is not lost. The leave should be taken as soon as possible after the period of postponement has apsed ona precise date agreed by both parties.
TERMINATION OF PARENTAL LEAVE
In granting parental leave the managerial authority should satisfy itself that the teacher is entitled to the leave and that it has not already been granted. A managerial authority may terminate parental leave if it has reasonable grounds to believe that it is being used for a purpose other than taking care of the child concerned. Before terminating the leave, the managerial authority must notify the teacher, in writing, of the intention to do so, and invite the teacher to make representations on the matter within seven days.
ILLNESS OF PARENT
If the parent becomes ill while on parental leave and is unable to care for the child the leave can be suspended for the duration of the illness. In order to suspend the parental leave the employee must give written notice and relevant evidence of the illness to the employer as soon as is reasonably practicable. The parental leave resumes after the illness. During the illness the parent is treated as an employee who is sick.
SOCIAL WELFARE ARRANGEMENTS
The Minister for Social Protection has introduced Regulations to ensure preservation of social insurance (PRSI) records for employees who take parental leave. Your employer must write to the Records Update Section of Department of Social Protection (DSP), detailing the weeks you have not worked, so that you can get credited PRSI contributions for this time. You can find information about credited contributions and parental leave on the DSP website.
Teachers should make the necessary arrangements with the relevant organisations for the payment of voluntary contributions during absences on parental leave.