Parental leave

Who is entitled to parental leave?

All employees who have served a minimum of one year's continuous employment by the time they want to take leave are entitled to take parental leave. Both mothers and fathers are entitled to parental leave.

How much parental leave are parents entitled to?

  • Parents are entitled to thirteen weeks leave for each child. Parents of disabled children are entitled to 18 weeks;
  • Leave may be taken at any time before the child' fifth birthday;
  • Parents may take parental leave in short or long blocks, having discussed this first with their employer;
  • If the parent has more than one child (i.e. twins they are entitled to parental leave for both children);
  • Parents of disabled children may take their leave at any time before the child's eighteenth birthday.

To what extent, as an employer, can I dictate when someone takes their parental leave?

The legislation allows employers considerable discretion in terms of making reasonable requests to an individual to defer or re-schedule parental leave to allow for commercial circumstances. The key word here is 'reasonable'.

Is the employee entitled to return to their original job after parental leave?

Employers must guarantee that the employee can return to their original job once their parental leave is over. However, if the period of parental leave was longer than four weeks and if it is not reasonably practicable for the employee to return to the same job, a similar job, with the same or higher status, should be offered.  

It is recommended that employers keep records of employee's parental leave. Employers are entitled to enquire how much parental leave has been taken if the employee was previously employed by another Company.