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25th Jul 2019

Four more weeks of unpaid parental leave to be made available from September

Rudi Kinsella

Change is coming.

Four extra weeks of unpaid parental leave will be offered to parents of children aged 12 and under from September onward.

The current entitlement for unpaid parental leave is 18 weeks per child, which will now be extended to 22.

An estimated 60,000 parents a year are expected to gain from this change.

Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan signed the Commencement Order for the Parental Leave (Amendment) Act 2019 on Tuesday.

He elaborated on the new situation in a statement, which read:

“The period of unpaid parental leave will be extended from the current entitlement of 18 weeks to 22 weeks from 1st September 2019. Further changes will come into place on 1 September 2020 when the unpaid parental leave entitlement will be extended to 26 weeks.

“The new measures allow any parent who has already availed of their current entitlement of 18 weeks to avail of a further eight weeks of parental leave. Parents can now apply to their employer for permission related to the first additional 4 weeks.

“The legislation also introduces an increase to the age of the child for which parental leave is available from 8 to 12 years. Both mothers and fathers may apply for this leave which I anticipate may be of particular benefit to parents that wish to take the unpaid leave when their children will be returning to school in September.”

David Stanton, T.D., Minister of State with responsibility for Equality, Immigration and Integration elaborated, saying:

“I was very pleased to work with Oireachtas Members on behalf of Government to enact and implement this legislation. This proposal for additional unpaid leave was made in a private members’ bill sponsored by Deputies Róisín Shortall and Catherine Murphy.

“The Government continues to develop and extend its own proposals to extend paid parental leave entitlements. Later this year a new social insurance-based parental leave system will be available to parents providing two weeks of paid leave to both parents during the first year of a child’s life.

“An estimated 60,000 parents a year are expected to gain from this change.

“This is in addition to the two weeks paid Paternity Leave for fathers which commenced in 2016 and which almost 70,000 fathers have applied to the scheme since its introduction.

“The Government will continue to support parents by providing greater flexibility in achieving and managing a work life balance.”