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Career breaks

You can take a career break for:

  • domestic reasons, for example, child-rearing
  • educational purposes, for example, to get a post-graduate qualification
  • foreign travel

Who can apply for a career break

Employees who have completed their probation period can apply for a career break.

If you are still on probation, you may be granted a career break in special cases. For example, to cope with unusual domestic difficulties. Your probation, in this case, will be extended by the length of the career break.

Approval of career break applications

Career breaks are granted at the discretion of management and subject to service requirements. Your manager will consider your application based on service needs and advise you of their decision.

How long you can take a career break for

The minimum period for a career break is one year - except where leave is needed to cope with unusual domestic difficulties.

The maximum period is 5 years.

Taking multiple career breaks

You may be granted a maximum period of 3 career breaks which, when added up, do not exceed 8 years.

On the date of starting your second or third career break, you must have worked the same amount of time as you plan to take for that career break. For example, you must have worked for the last 2 years in order to take a 2-year career break.

In special cases, this period of service between career breaks may be waived.

Notice to return to work

A vacancy may not exist when your career break ends. If so, you may be offered a post at a lower grade as a temporary arrangement. You will receive the salary applicable to that post during this period. You are guaranteed reemployment in your substantive grade within 12 months of the end of the career break.

You must give at least 3 months’ notice of your intention to return to work. Your right to return to work when the career break ends depends on you giving this notice.

Taking a career break after special leave

You may want to take a career break immediately following a period of special leave with nominal pay. You can do this as long as the combined leave does not exceed 5 years.

NCHD career breaks

Read provisions on career breaks for non-consultant hospital doctors (NCHDs) (PDF, 137 KB, 1 page).

How to apply for a career break

You can apply for a career break by submitting the career break application form to your department head.

HR Form - career break application form HR105 (PDF, 323 KB, 5 pages)

Related documents

HR Circular 010-2013 - career breaks (PDF)

NCHD Career Break HSE guidelines on terms and conditions of employment (PDF)

HR Form - career break application form HR105 (PDF, 323 KB, 5 pages)


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Phone: 1850 444 925


The helpdesk is open from Monday to Friday 8am to 5pm

Page last reviewed: 20/11/2020
Next review due: 20/11/2023