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The current position

Parents are currently entitled to two weeks’ parent’s leave during the first year of a child’s birth or adoption. Employees who avail of parent’s leave are entitled to receive parent’s benefit from the State, subject to meeting certain eligibility criteria. Parent’s benefit is currently €245 per week. There is no obligation on employers to top-up this benefit. Employers cannot refuse parent’s leave, although in certain circumstances it can be postponed.

Increased entitlements in 2021

As part of Budget 2021 it was announced that parent’s leave and the related State benefit would be extended by a further three weeks, bringing an employee’s total entitlement to five weeks’ leave.

Although not yet legislated for, Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Heather Humphreys TD said this change is expected to take effect in April 2021.

The new benefits will apply for all children born or adopted on or after 1 November 2019. The eligible timeframe for availing of the leave is also to be extended from 12 months to 24 months. As a result, it appears that parents who availed of the two weeks’ leave and benefit prior to April 2021 will be entitled to the extended benefit once the changes come into effect, subject to the 24 month timeframe.

The trend towards a more family-friendly working culture continues, with parental leave entitlements also having increased this year.

Employers should be aware of the changes which are coming down the track. Given the recent Budget announcement, employers should also be prepared to field questions from employees on the matter. However, employees can be told that the increased entitlements will not be implemented until next year due to legislative changes and other administrative measures required to bring them into effect.

For more information contact a member of our Employment and Benefits team.

The content of this article is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal or other advice.

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