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Four more weeks of unpaid parental leave available from September

This will increase the unpaid parental leave from 18 weeks to 22 weeks from 1 September 2019.

More unpaid parental leave will be offered from September.
More unpaid parental leave will be offered from September.
Image: Shutterstock/Zoia Kostina

FOUR MORE WEEKS of unpaid parental leave will be offered to parents of children aged 12 and under from September.

The current entitlement for unpaid parental leave is 18 weeks per child. This will extend to 22 weeks per child from 1 September 2019.

Further changes will be made on 1 September 2020 when it will be extended to 26 weeks per child.

The Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan signed the Commencement Order for the Parental Leave (Amendment Act) 2019 on 23 July.

“Both mothers and fathers may apply for this leave which I anticipate may be of particular benefit to parents that wish to take the unpaid leave when their children will be returning to school in September,”said Flanagan in a statement. 

This order allowed for the phased implementation of the extended eight weeks of unpaid parental leave per child over the next two years.

For parents who have already availed of their 18 weeks off, they can avail of the four extra weeks from September. 

The qualifying age for children whose parents qualify for unpaid parental leave has increased from eight to 12 years. Parents should apply for additional unpaid leave through their employers. 

The Parental Leave (Amendment) Act 2019 was brought into law on 22 May 2019 and it allows for a number of changes to parental leave over the next two years.

A new method of childcare funding for parents called the Affordable Childcare Scheme is due to begin later this year. This will allow parents to apply online for their childcare subsidies. 

Later this year, there will also be a further two weeks of paid leave for each parent during the first year of a child’s life. These weeks will be non-transferable between parents. 

60,000 parents a year are expected to avail of this. This is in addition to the two weeks paid paternity leave for fathers which began in 2016. Almost 70,000 fathers have applied for this scheme since then.

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