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Parental leave

The purpose of parental leave is to enable employees to take time off work (unpaid) to take care of their child. Parental leave is different to parent's leave. In the public health service, parental leave must end when your child reaches age 16.

HR Circular 023 2023 - Change to Parental Leave Age Limit in the Public Health Sector

Parent's leave is time off work so that you can care for your child during their first two years.

Amount of parental leave you can take

You can take 26 weeks parental leave per child. If you have more than 1 child, you can't take more than 26 weeks in a 12 month period.

In the case of multiple births, such as twins, you can take 26 weeks’ leave for each child. The 12 month restriction does not apply in this case.

How to apply for parental leave

Age of child

In the public health service, a period of parental leave must end when your child reaches 16 in all cases. This includes if your child has a long-term illness or disability or in the case of an adoption.

Who can apply

Generally, you must have worked for at least 1 year with your current employer before you can take parental leave. But if your child is reaching the maximum age, you may be able to take 'pro-rata' parental leave. This means you are entitled to 1 week's leave for every month you have worked.

Part-time employees are also entitled to parental leave on a pro-rata basis.

If both parents have the same employer

It's possible to transfer up to a maximum of 14 of your 26 weeks of parental leave to the other parent of your child. This depends on your employer agreeing to this.

Ways you can take parental leave

Parental leave can be taken as:

  • One continuous period of leave equal to 26 weeks
  • 2 separate periods, each consisting of not less than 6 weeks and not more than 26 weeks in total. There must be a gap of at least 10 weeks between the 2 periods of parental leave per child.
  • Subject to your employer’s agreement, a number of periods broken into working days or working hours or a combination of working days/hours.

See Parental Leave Amendment Act 2019 circular 017/2019 (PDF, 183KB, 2 pages)

HR Circular 023 2023 - Change to Parental Leave Age Limit in the Public Health Sector

Protection of your employment rights

Your employment rights are protected during parental leave. The only exception to this is your right to pay and superannuation.

You will continue to build up annual leave. You are also entitled to any public holidays which fall during a period of parental leave.

Periods of probation, training or apprenticeship may be suspended.

If you become ill while on parental leave

If you get sick while on parental leave and are unable to care for your child, your parental leave can be suspended. The leave may then be treated as sick leave. To do this, you must provide your manager with a doctor's certificate. Your parental leave will resume after the illness.

Postponement of parental leave

Parental leave may be postponed by your employer. This can happen if your leave will make it difficult to run your workplace.

Your employer must explain to you why they need to postpone your leave. Your leave can only be postponed for a maximum of 6 months.

Parental leave may only be postponed once.

Requesting changes to working hours or patterns

If you are returning to work from parental leave, you can request changes to your working hours or patterns. This is usually proposed for a set period of time.

Your employer must respond to your request in writing. They will take into account both the employer’s and your needs. There is no obligation on the employer to grant the change requested.

Flexible working application form (HR 111) (PDF, 59 KB, 3 pages).

How to apply

Complete the Parental leave application form HR108j (PDF, 54.2KB, 3 pages) and give it to your manager at least 6 weeks before you plan to take parental leave.

You and your manager will need to complete a parental leave confirmation document (part of the parental leave application form). This document shows that you and your manager agree on the parental leave dates and the way in which it will be taken.

You both must complete this at least 4 weeks before the leave will begin.

The document shows:

  • the date the leave will begin
  • the length of time that you will be on parental leave
  • the way you plan to take the leave, for example, 26 weeks in a row or 1 day off per week
  • signatures of the manager and the employee

You can change your mind before you sign the confirmation document. Let your manager know in writing if you want to cancel or amend your parental leave request.

Related topics

Parent's leave

Shorter Working Year Scheme

Parental Leave Amendment Act 2019 circular 017/2019

HR Circular 023 2023 - Change to Parental Leave Age Limit in the Public Health Sector

Extension of parental leave entitlement memo (PDF, 547KB, 2 pages)

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Email: ask.hr@hse.ie

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