(Should be read in conjunction with the General Provisions for All Schemes, and Definitions as laid out in Circular 0054/2019)
The Parental Leave Scheme is regulated by the Parental Leave Act 1998, as amended.
The purpose of Parental Leave is to allow a teacher a period of unpaid leave to care for his/her child.
Entitlement to Parental Leave
A teacher is entitled up to a maximum of:
in respect of each child up to the age of 13 years or the age of 16 years in the case of a child with a disability and/or long-term illness.
Prior to 1st September, 2019, a teacher had an entitlement of up to a maximum of 18 weeks Parental Leave per child. From 1st September, 2019, where a teacher has already availed of his/her maximum 18 week entitlement he/she may apply to his/her employer for an additional 4 weeks provided the eligibility criteria are met.
From 1st September 2020, where a teacher has already availed of his/her maximum 22 week entitlement, he/she may apply to his/her employer for an additional 4 weeks provided the eligibility criteria are met.
Entitlement to Parental Leave shall end:
In accordance with the Parental Leave Acts:
Parental Leave is available to each of the following:
Where a teacher is acting in loco parentis it is a matter for the employer to be satisfied that the granting of Parental Leave is appropriate.
In accordance with the Parental Leave Acts:
“In loco parentis means the teacher applying for Parental Leave must be either legally responsible for or fulfil the criterion that he or she is actively parenting the child on an on-going basis”.
Parental Leave for more than one child in a rolling period of 12 months may not exceed 22 weeks (26 weeks from 1st September 2020) without the consent of the employer except in the case of multiple births (twins, triplets etc.) where a teacher has a statutory entitlement to take more than 22 weeks (26 weeks from 1st September 2020) in any 12 month period.
A teacher is eligible for Parental Leave where he/she has completed one year’s continuous employment with the employer from whose employment the leave is taken. This requirement is waived in the case of a teacher compulsorily redeployed into a school or where a school is amalgamated provided that he/she has completed one year’s continuous employment in his/her former school prior to redeployment/amalgamation.
In circumstances where, on the latest day for commencing a period of Parental Leave, the teacher has less than one year but more than 3 months continuous teaching service with the employer from whose employment the leave is to be taken, the teacher shall be entitled to Parental Leave for a period of one week for each month of continuous service completed with his/her employer at the time of the commencement of the leave.
Pattern of Parental Leave
A teacher may avail of Parental Leave in blocks of at least one week up to a maximum of 22 weeks (26 weeks from 1st September 2020). Please note each period of Parental Leave must be a minimum duration of 7 consecutive days including weekends, school closures and days on which a teacher is not timetabled for attendance occurring within that period.
Where a teacher applies for Parental Leave for 6 or more weeks, the minimum period which must be granted by the employer is 6 weeks, except in the cases of refusal and suspension/postponement of Parental Leave as outlined in paragraphs 8, 12 and 13; Chapter 5 of Circular 0054/2019.
Special Pattern of Parental Leave in Exceptional Circumstances
In certain circumstances a teacher may avail of Parental Leave in the form of individual days where a child has particular medical problems that require the attendance of a parent with the child at a hospital, clinic or therapeutic appointment on a regular basis.
In such circumstances, certification from the hospital or clinic in respect of the absence must be submitted to the employer and retained on the teacher’s personnel file.
Application for Parental Leave should be made by the teacher to his/her employer at least 6 weeks prior to the planned commencement date using the Application Form at Appendix A; Chapter 5 of Circular 0054/2019.
The employer in granting Parental Leave should, 4 weeks prior to the planned commencement date, prepare with the teacher the confirmation document at Appendix B; Chapter 5 of Circular 0054/2019. This document constitutes a legal agreement between the parties. A teacher may revoke the application at any point prior to the signing of the confirmation document by both parties.
Notification and Recording of Leave
The Parental Leave absence must be notified by the employer to the Department via the OLCS, not later than 4 weeks prior to the commencement of the leave.
Refusal to grant Parental Leave
Where there are reasonable grounds to believe that the teacher may not be entitled to Parental Leave, the employer may refuse to grant such leave.
Where the employer proposes to refuse an application for Parental Leave, they must:
Status during Parental Leave
A teacher on Parental Leave is deemed for all purposes to be in employment at that time with the exception of remuneration and superannuation. Parental Leave is fully reckonable for seniority and progression on the incremental salary scale.
The employer may appoint a substitute teacher, paid by the Paymaster while a teacher is absent on Parental Leave and this must be recorded by the employer via the OLCS.
Contracts awarded to cover Parental Leave absences should make clear reference to the fact that the replacement teacher’s appointment may have to be terminated, in the event of the absent teacher returning to duties earlier than initially expected e.g. where Parental Leave is suspended due to illness.
Employment while on Parental Leave
A teacher absent on Parental Leave may not engage in any type of teaching or other paid employment.
Suspension/Postponement of Parental Leave by the Teacher
If during, or immediately prior to, the agreed period of Parental Leave, the teacher concerned becomes ill to the extent that he/she is unable, or will be unable to care for the relevant child, he/she must notify the employer in writing:
The teacher must provide appropriate medical certification to the employer which confirms the teacher’s incapacity to care for the child as a result of illness.
It should be noted that the suspended portion of the leave, if it is to be availed of, must be taken as soon as possible after the teacher has been certified fit to resume.
If during the suspension of the leave due to the certified illness/incapacity of the parent, the child goes over the age threshold, the entitlement to take the leave remains and must be taken as soon as possible.
Postponement of Parental Leave by the Employer
Ordinarily, Parental Leave may only be postponed once in circumstances where granting the leave at that time would have a substantial adverse effect on the operation of the school e.g. where an employer has difficulty in obtaining a replacement teacher for the duration of the absence.
In such circumstances the employer must:
If, as a result of postponement of the leave, a child passes the age threshold, the entitlement to Parental Leave is not lost. The leave should be taken as soon as possible after the period of postponement has lapsed on a date agreed by both parties.
Termination of Parental Leave
Parental Leave may be terminated by the employer if there are reasonable grounds to believe that the leave is being used for a purpose other than the care of the child concerned.
Before terminating the leave the employer is obliged to:
The final decision notification should inform the teacher of his/her obligation to return to work not later than the date specified on the Confirmation Document but no earlier than 7 days after receipt of the notice.
Request to change work hours/pattern
A teacher returning to work from Parental Leave may request a change in work hours/pattern for a defined period of time under the Job Sharing Scheme, the terms of which are set out at Chapter 8 of Circular 0054/2019.
Such a request must be made in writing to the employer not later than 6 weeks before the proposed commencement of the change in work pattern specifying the nature of the changes requested, the date of commencement and duration of the change in work pattern.
The employer shall consider that request having regard to the teachers’ terms and conditions in relation to leave and remuneration as well as the needs of both the school and the teacher.
The employer shall inform the teacher in writing if the request is being granted or refused as soon as reasonably practicable, but not later than 4 weeks after receiving the application.
Where the request is approved, both parties must prepare and sign a written agreement which sets out the revised work arrangements, including date of commencement and duration of the changes (The Job Sharing Scheme is subject to annual application). The employer must retain the original agreement on file and give a copy to the teacher. At any time before the agreement has been signed, the teacher may, by notice to the employer in writing, withdraw the requested change to work hours/pattern outlining the reasons for withdrawal.
Carryover of remaining Parental Leave from a previous employment
Subject to the normal age threshold limitations under the Parental Leave Acts and service requirements, a teacher entering this Scheme from a previous employment either in a teaching or non-teaching capacity where some Parental Leave has already been availed of:
Transfer of Parental Leave
Subject to the approval of the employer, it is possible to transfer 14 weeks out of the 22 or 26 week Parental Leave entitlement to another parent of a relevant child, provided the other parent is employed with the same employer. In compliance with Council Directive 2010/18/EU, it is necessary for each parent to retain 8 or 12 weeks, out of his/her 22 or 26 week entitlement, for his/her own personal use. Under that Directive, these 8 or 12 weeks may not be transferred to another parent and can only be used by the parent with whom the entitlement originates. This means where both parents are employed by the same employer, one parent may avail of 36 weeks and the other 8 weeks. From 1st September 2020, where both parents are employed by the same school, one parent may avail of 40 weeks and the other 12 weeks.
A teacher who avails of Parental Leave may be entitled to receive PRSI credits. Information about Credited Contributions can be found on the DEASP website. Therefore, all queries in relation to Social Welfare arrangements and appropriate credits of social insurance (PRSI) records for teachers who take Parental Leave should be directed to the DEASP.
Voluntary deductions from salary cease when a teacher commences Parental Leave.
It is the sole responsibility of a teacher availing of Parental Leave to ensure that voluntary deductions at source such as medical insurance policies, income continuance insurance, union subscriptions, credit union and local property tax payments do not lapse.
No liability rests with the Paymaster for policies of any nature which lapse. Further details in relation to voluntary deductions can be found on the Department's website www.education.ie under Education Staff – Information – Payroll & Financial – Voluntary Deductions.