A guide to parental leave for second-level teachers in Ireland.
Parental Leave Entitlements
Under the terms of the Parental Leave Acts 1998 and 2006 and the European Union (Parental Leave) Regulations 2013 (S.I.No.81 of 2013), a teacher is entitled to 22 weeks unpaid parental leave in respect of each child up to the age of 13 years or the age of 16 years in the case of a child with a disability and or long-term illness (increasing to 16 years of age for all children with effect from 8th January 2024 - see information note 0010/2023).
Each parent has a separate entitlement to parental leave from his/her job and such leave is available to each parent who is the natural/adoptive/adopting parent or acting in loco parentis to a child. Prior to 1st September, 2019, a teacher had an entitlement of up to a maximum of 18 weeks Parental Leave per child. From 1st September, 2019, where a teacher has already availed of his/her maximum 18 week entitlement, he/she may apply to his/her employer for an additional 4 weeks provided the eligibility criteria are met. From 1st September 2020, where a teacher has already availed of his/her maximum 22 week entitlement, he/she may apply to his/her employer for an additional 4 weeks provided the eligibility criteria are met.
The purpose of the leave is to enable a parent to take care of his/her child.
- A teacher must have completed one year's continuous teaching service before he/she can take parental leave. This requirement is waived in the case of a teacher compulsorily redeployed into a school provided that he/she 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 employment the leave is to be taken, the teacher shall be entitled to parental leave for a period of one week for each month of continuous service completed with his/her employer at the time of commencement of the leave.
Pattern of Parental Leave
A teacher may avail of parental leave in blocks of at least 1 week up to a maximum of 22 weeks (26 weeks from 1st September, 2020). 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.
Special Pattern in Exceptional Circumstances
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 the hospital or clinic in respect of the absence must be submitted to the employer and retained on the teacher's personnel file.
A teacher must apply to his/her employer at least six weeks in advance of the commencement date of the leave on the prescribed application form which is located at Appendix A Circular 54/2019 - Parental Leave Scheme - Chapter 5.
Employer Confirmation Document
The employer, in granting parental leave should, 4 weeks prior to the commencement of the leave, prepare with the teacher the confirmation document, which is located at Circular 54/2019 - Parental Leave Scheme - Chapter 5 - Appendix B.
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 by the Employer
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.
- notify the teacher in writing not later than 4 weeks before the intended date of the commencement of the leave.
- ensure that the leave is postponed for no 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 a new confirmation document (Appendix B - Circular 54/2019 - Parental Leave Scheme - Chapter 5) agreeing to the new dates is signed by both parties with the understanding that this can be further amended provided there is agreement between 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 7 days. They must also consider any representations from the teacher before making a final decision and notify the teacher in writing of its decision summarising the grounds for termination. The final decision should inform the teacher of his/her obligation to return to work not later than the date specified on the Confirmation Document but no earlier than 7 days after receipt of the notice.
Request to change work hours/pattern
A teacher returning to work from Parental Leave may request a change in work hours/pattern for a defined period of time under the Job Sharing Scheme. This request must be made in writing to the Employer not later than 6 weeks before commencement specifying the nature of changes requested. The employer shall consider the request in relation to both the needs of the school and the teacher and shall inform the teacher in writing if the request is being granted or refused not later than 4 weeks after receiving the application. Where the request is approved, both parties must sign a written agreement setting out revised work arrangements.
Suspension/Postponement of Parental Leave through Illness of the Teacher
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.
Voluntary deductions from salary cease when a teacher goes on parental leave.
It is the sole responsibility of a teacher availing of parental leave to ensure that medical insurance policies, income continuance insurance, union subscriptions, credit union payments do not lapse.
For further information on Parental Leave Entitlements, please refer to Circular 54/2019 - Parental Leave Scheme - Chapter 5.
Frequently Asked Questions
Find answers to the questions we get asked the most here.
Frequently Asked Questions on Parental Leave
What is parental leave? Parental leave is a period of unpaid leave available to teachers for the purpose of the care of children. It is provided for under the Parental Leave Acts 1998 and 2006, and the European Union (Parental Leave) Regulations... Read more
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