Unpaid parental annual leave in Ireland to be extended to 22 weeks

The unpaid parental annual leave in Ireland will be extended to 22 working weeks from the current 18 weeks starting from next month, reported local media RTE on Sunday.

According to a new legislation which has recently been signed into law by the Irish president, parents who have kids aged below eight can each apply for an extra four-week unpaid parental annual leave on top of the current 18-week entitlement starting from Sept. 1, 2019, said the report, adding that those who apply for unpaid parental leave have to inform their employers six weeks in advance.

According to the report, the legislation was initiated by the Social Democrats and received a cross-party support in the lower house of the Irish parliament.

Roisin Shortall, co-leader of the Social Democrats, said that the new legislation is a “very badly needed” one as “Ireland ranks very poorly in European terms for parental leave and flexible work options.”

She said the legislation could potentially affect half a million working parents in Ireland.

Rhona Murphy, Head of Employment Law Services with Irish Business and Employers Confederation, the largest business lobby group in Ireland, said while employers were broadly supportive of the new legislation some smaller employers may face challenges.

They may find it difficult to recruit replacements when their employees ask for parental leave in smaller blocks of one week, she said, adding that it could also create a difficulty for colleagues who are remaining in the workforce.