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. Please Note: We are currently awaiting an updated circular letter from the Department of Education & Skills which will reflect these changes and which will set out the manner in which parental leave may be taken.*******
Under the terms of the Parental Act a teacher who is the natural or adoptive parent of a child shall be entitled to parental leave for a period of 14 working weeks (to be increased to 18 weeks upon issuing of an updated circular). 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 of the adoption order, or
- Both natural and adoptive parents of children with a disability up to the age of 16 years. This provision applies to a child in respect of whom a Domiciliary Care Allowance (DCA) is payable, or would be payable if the child satisfied the means test for DCA. A copy of the DCA certificate or a note from a medical practitioner certifying the disability should accompany the Parental Leave application form.
Each parent has a separate entitlement to parental leave from his/her job. However, the leave is not transferable, i.e. the mother cannot take the father's leave or vice-versa.
ELIGIBILITY FOR PARENTAL LEAVE
- A teacher must have completed one years continuous teaching service before s/he can take parental leave. In the case of a teacher who has not completed one years continuous employment but has completed three months of such employment, the teacher shall be entitled to leave for a period of one week for each month of continuous employment that s/he has completed with the employer at the time of the commencement of the leave.
- Parental leave is unpaid. Where a teacher opts to take parental leave prior to a holiday period s/he will only be paid from the date the parental leave ends as confirmed in the "confirmation document". Where a teacher commences parental leave immediately after a vacation period s/he will only be paid to the date the parental leave commences as confirmed in the "confirmation document". Where a teacher is granted a period of parental leave prior to a holiday period and is granted a further period of parental leave after the same holiday period they are regarded as two separate periods of leave.
- 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 14 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 14 weeks*. In the case of multiple births this restriction does not apply.
- A teacher shall take parental leave as follows*:
- as one continuous period of 14 weeks, or
- in two separate periods of seven weeks, or
- in a maximum of three separate periods as follows:
- 1 x 2 weeks; 1 x 4 weeks; 1 x 8 weeks
- 1 x 2 weeks; 1 x 5 weeks; 1 x 7 weeks
- 1 x 2 weeks; 1 x 6 weeks; 1 x 6 weeks.
- In exceptional circumstances a teacher may avail of parental leave where a child has particular medical problems which require the attendance of a parent with a child at a hospital or clinic on a regular basis. In such cases certification from the hospital / clinic in respect of the absence must be submitted to the managerial authority.
- A teacher is not obliged to take the full 14 weeks parental leave.
- Where public holidays fall during the period of parental leave they are added to the period of parental leave which the teacher is entitled to take.
* to be amended upon issuing of an updated circular in accordance with EU Directive 2010/18/EU
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.
- Not later than four weeks before the commencement of the leave, the managerial authority and teacher must prepare the "confirmation document" specifying the date of commencement, its duration and the manner in which it will be taken. This document must be signed by the managerial authority and the teacher and copies should be retained by both parties. This document cannot then be amended without consent from both parties.
The teacher may revoke his / her intention to take Parental Leave at any time before the Confirmation Document is signed. The revocation must be made in writing to the managerial authority.
POSTPONEMENT OF PARENTAL LEAVE
The managerial authority may postpone parental leave if such leave would have an adverse effect on the operation of the school. The postponement may be to an agreed date not later than 6 months from the date on which the teacher had specified that the parental leave was to commence. Four weeks notice of postponement must be given after consultation with teacher. This notice must specify the grounds for postponement.
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.