Circular 20/2008 – Parental leave in the Civil Service – provides a summary of the main provisions of the Parental Leave Acts and is the authoritative guidance on all aspects of the parental leave scheme as it applies in the Civil Service. Parental Leave is a statutory entitlement, under Parental Leave Act 1998 and the Parental Leave (Amendment) Act 2006, which allows the parent of a child, born or adopted, to take unpaid leave for 18 working weeks for the purpose of caring for his/her child.
Parental Leave must be taken before the child is thirteen years of age (sixteen in the case of a child with a disability or a long term illness). Those who are in loco parentis may also be entitled to avail of Parental Leave. Parental Leave is available to Civil Service staff who have one year’s continuous service, but it will also be allowed, on a reduced basis, to staff who have more than three months but less than twelve months continuous service.
Parental Leave may be taken as one continuous period of 18 weeks, or as shorter periods together amounting to 18 weeks. This entitlement is reduced pro-rata in cases where the parent is availing of worksharing arrangements. 14 weeks of the 18 weeks Parental Leave entitlements may be transferred from one parent to another if both parents are employed by the same employer (the Civil Service is deemed a single employer for this purpose), subject to the employer’s agreement.
An officer who falls ill while on parental leave and as a result is unable to care for the child, e.g. hospitalisation, may suspend the parental leave for the duration of the illness following which period the parental leave recommences.
While the Parental Leave Act does not confer an entitlement to remuneration and superannuation benefits, an officer on parental leave is deemed to be in employment. The absence will therefore count as service for promotion, increment and annual leave.
Circular 13/2010 amended the upper limit of the age of the child in respect of whom employees may take parental leave from 8 to 13 years on an administrative basis.
Letter to HR Managers dated 20 March 2013 describes changes in parental leave in line with SI 81 of 2013 which increases parental leave from 14 working weeks to 18 working weeks. Four weeks are non-transferable between qualifying parents where both parents are employed in the Civil Service.
Letter to HR Managers dated 1 August 2014 amends the method of calculating parental leave for work sharers and replaces Example 2 in the Annex to Circular 20/2008. here
FAQs on the subject of Parental Leave can be found here.