Know Your Rights: Leave For Working Parents

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Know Your Rights has been compiled by Kerry Citizens Information Service which provides a free and confidential service to the public… 

Parents have a right to time off work to look after their children. Parents have several different types of statutory leave entitlements, for example, maternity leave, adoptive leave, paternity leave, parental leave and parent’s leave.

Maternity Leave: The law in Ireland provides specific protection for pregnant employees. You are entitled to paid time-off work to attend any medical visits (also known as antenatal visits or appointments) associated with the pregnancy and to attend a certain number of antenatal classes.

You are entitled to 26 weeks of maternity leave, typically starting 2 weeks before your due date.

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You may also be entitled to Maternity Benefit if you have enough social insurance (PRSI) contributions.

You can take additional maternity leave for up to 16 more weeks, beginning immediately after the end of your 26 weeks’ basic maternity leave.

Maternity Benefit does not cover additional maternity leave, and your employer does not have to pay you during this time.

Adoptive Leave: If you have become a parent through adoption, you can take adoptive leave from employment. If you have enough PRSI contributions you may qualify for Adoptive Benefit.

Adoptive leave gives 24 weeks’ leave off work to one parent of the adopting couple or a parent who is adopting alone.

The 24 weeks start from the date the child is placed in your care. You can take up to 16 additional weeks’ unpaid adoptive leave but you cannot claim Adoptive Benefit for these extra weeks.

The parent who does not avail of adoptive leave is entitled to paternity leave.

Paternity Leave: New parents (other than the mother of the child) are entitled to 2 weeks’ paternity leave from employment or self-employment in the 6 months following the birth or adoption of a child.

You can take time off if you are employed or self-employment, and can start the leave any time in the first 6 months after the baby’s birth or adoption. It does not matter how long you have been working for your employer or how many hours you work a week.

Usually, fathers take paternity leave. Paternity leave is also available to same-sex couples. Your employer does not have to pay you during paternity leave, but you may qualify for Paternity Benefit if you have enough PRSI contributions.

Parent’s leave aims to let working parents spend more time with their baby or adopted child during the first two years.

Each parent is entitled to 5 weeks of paid parent’s leave for a child born or adopted on or after 1 November 2019. Parent’s leave is available to both employees and people who are self-employed.

Parent’s Benefit is paid while you are on parent’s leave if you have enough PRSI contributions.

Your employer does not have to pay you while you are on parent’s leave, although some employers may ‘top-up’ your parent’s leave.

If you qualify for Parent’s Benefit, you will get €250 each week. Plans to extend parent’s leave were announced in Budget 2022 but the specific date when these changes will be implemented have not yet been announced.

Parental Leave: Since 1 September 2020 each parent is entitled to 26 weeks’ unpaid parental leave. You must take parental leave before the child is 12 years of age, or 16 years of age if the child has a disability.

In general, you must have been working for your employer for at least 12 months to be entitled to parental leave. There is no social welfare payment available. Both parents have an equal, separate entitlement to parental leave.

This means you are both entitled to 26 weeks leave. If you both work for the same employer and your employer agrees, you can transfer 14 weeks of your parental leave entitlement to the other parent.

If you change job and have used part of your parental leave allowance, you can use the remainder of your allowance after one year’s employment with your new employer (once your child is still under 12).

• If you need further information about any of the issues raised here or you have other questions, you can call a member of the local Citizens Information Service in Kerry on 0818 07 7860.

They will be happy to assist you and if necessary arrange an appointment for you. Kerry HELPLINE 0818 07 7860

Monday to Friday from 10am -4pm. Alternatively you can email on or log on to

The National Phone Service is available on 0818 07 4000 Monday to Friday 9am – 8pm.

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