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Parent's leave

Parent’s leave is time off work so that you can care for your child during their first 2 years. Parent's leave is different to parental leave (in the public health service, parental leave must end when your child reaches age 16).

From 1 July 2022, the current entitlement for parent's leave is 7 weeks leave. Employees who had taken 5 weeks’ parent’s leave prior to 1 July 2022 will now have an entitlement to an additional 2 weeks.

Your child must have been born or adopted on or after 1 November 2019 for you to qualify for the leave. Parent’s leave must be taken within 2 years of the birth or adoptive placement of your child. An employee is entitled to a total of 7 weeks including for multiple births or if adopting 2 or more children at the same time.

You will not be paid your salary from the HSE while you are on parent's leave, but you can apply for parent's benefit from the Department of Social Protection (DSP).The entitlement to parent’s benefit has been extended to 7 weeks also. Read more about the conditions of Parent’s benefit set out by the Department of Social Protection

Only you can take your 7 weeks entitlement. You can't pass it on to your partner or to someone else caring for your baby.

Taking parent's leave does not affect your other leave entitlements, for example, maternity, adoptive, paternity and parental leave.

Entitlement to parent's leave - relevant parent

You must be a 'relevant parent' to take parent’s leave. Your entitlement is conditional on the parent’s leave being used to provide, or assist in the provision of, care to the child.

A relevant parent is one of the following:

In the case of adoption

  • qualifying adopter of the child
  • spouse, civil partner or cohabitant of the qualifying adopter

In any other case

  • parent of the child
  • spouse, civil partner or cohabitant of the parent of the child
  • parent of a donor-conceived child

When you can take parent's leave

If you want to use your parent's leave you must do so within 2 years of:

  • your child's birth
  • placement of adopted child with you

How the leave can be taken

You can take your leave as one of the following:

  • continuous period of 7 weeks
  • separate periods of not less than 1 week

If you are taking maternity or adoptive leave, you must take this before parent’s leave.

Employees who are entitled to paternity leave and parent’s leave can take these leave entitlements in whichever order they wish, subject to the relevant time limits.

Payment of parent’s benefit

You will not be paid your salary from the HSE while you are on parent's leave. But you may be entitled to parent's benefit if you have paid enough PRSI contributions.

Payment is made by the Department of Social Protection (DSP)

Employees applying for parent’s benefit must declare the leave dates are approved.

DSP may contact the employer for confirmation of the parent’s leave dates.

Fixed-term or specified purpose contracts

You can take parent's leave if you are on a fixed-term or specified purpose contract. Your contract remains the same and will end on the specified date, or the purpose for which you have been employed ends.

Your entitlement to parent's leave ceases when your contract of employment ends.

Parent’s leave and early confinement (childbirth)

Early confinement is 4 weeks or more before the expected date of childbirth.

The relevant parent must submit notification within 7 days of the birth.

Changing the start date of parent’s leave

You can select another date for when your parent's leave starts if:

  • your adoption date is postponed not later than 2 years from the day of placement, or
  • in any other case, not later than the day on which the child attains the age of 2 years.

Postponing parent's leave

Parent’s leave may be postponed by the employee or employee in certain circumstances.

Postponement of parent’s leave by your employer

Parent’s leave may be postponed once by an employer. This can happen where the leave would have a substantial adverse effect on the service.

This includes:

  • seasonal variations in the volume of work
  • unavailability of a person to carry out the duties of the employee taking parent’s leave
  • the nature of the employee’s duties
  • the number of employees taking parent’s leave at the same time

Your manager will inform you of the reason for the postponement in advance. You will be given written notice of postponement at least 4 weeks before the leave is due to start. The postponement of leave will not be more than 12 weeks from the start date you had requested. Your manager will engage with you regarding a new date.

Postponement of parent’s leave when a child is hospitalised

If your child is hospitalised, you may submit a request in writing (email or letter) to postpone the leave, or part of the leave.

If the postponement is agreed:

  • you must continue to work, or return to work on an agreed date
  • the postponed leave must be taken within 7 days of your child being discharged from hospital

Entitlement to parent’s leave on death of child or parent

If your child dies it will not affect your entitlement to parent's leave if it's within the time frame and you qualify as a relevant parent.

If a parent dies, a surviving parent may take the transferred leave after the end of their own parent’s leave.

Protection of employment rights while on parent’s leave

Your employment rights are protected while you are on parent's leave. The only exception to this is your right to payment and superannuation.

You will still have the same annual leave and entitlement to public holidays.

Absences while on parent’s leave cannot be treated as part of any other leave, for example, sick leave and annual leave.

You are entitled to return to work in your normal job under the same terms and conditions.

An employer cannot penalise you, or threaten penalisation, for proposing to take, or for taking parent's leave.

If you are on probation

Employees on probation who take parent’s leave may have their probation delayed. The probation period will continue when you return to work.

How to apply for parent's leave

You must let your manager know at least 6 weeks before you intend to take parent's leave.

Complete the HSE Parent's leave application form (HR108T) (PDF, 200KB, 3 pages) and give it to your manager.

You will need to let your manager know:

  • the date you expect to start your parent’s leave
  • duration of the leave
  • how you wish to take the leave (7 consecutive or separate periods of a minimum of one week )

What you need to apply

Birth of a child

  • a copy of the medical certification as provided by the mother to her employer or other appropriate certificate, from a registered medical practitioner confirming the pregnancy and specifying the expected date of birth of the child concerned, or
  • a copy of the birth certificate (if you are giving notice after the birth)


A copy of the placement certificate. This is used where notification is given after the day of placement.

If you adopt a child from another country you must provide a declaration of suitability. This must be provided before the day of placement. A copy of the placement certificate must be provided after the placement takes place.

Related topics

Parental leave

Shorter Working Year Scheme

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