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Leaves and time off in Ireland

Offering paid time off and other flexible policies can help with your talent attraction and retention efforts in Ireland. This also reflects to your company’s commitment to supporting employee well-being and fostering positive work environment.

In this guide, we will explore the paid time off policies and leaves in Ireland so you can provide the necessary benefits employees are entitled to and mitigate legal risk.

Leaves in Ireland

What is the annual leave policy in Ireland?

Employees in Ireland are entitled to four weeks of paid annual leave. The annual leave policy for employees is governed by the Organisation of Working Time Act, 1997. This legislation grants annual leave to all employees, including full-time, part-time, temporary, and casual workers.

Employees’ holiday entitlements in Ireland are typically calculated based on one of the following methods:

  • 8% of the hours an employee works in a leave per year (up to a maximum of 20 working days).
  • One-third of a working week per calendar month for employees who work at least 117 hours per month.

Employers in Ireland are obligated to provide annual leave entitlement to their employees as outlined in the legislation.

Standard sick leave policy in Ireland

The statutory sick leave in Ireland is 5 days as of January 1, 2024. This means that employees are entitled to up to 5 days of paid leave per year if they are unable to work due to illness or injury. The standard sick leave policy in Ireland is regulated by the Statutory Sick Leave Scheme under the Organisation of Working Time Act, 1997.

Here are the things you need to keep in mind about the sick leave policy in Ireland:

  • The paid sick leave entitlement is triggered by the employee’s first statutory sick leave day.
  • Sick leave can be taken on consecutive or non-consecutive days.
  • The statutory sick pay has a maximum limit of €110 per day.
  • Any unused sick leave expires at the end of the calendar year, and the sick pay year runs from January 1 to December 31.

Workers must be employed for at least 13 weeks before they claim a statutory sick leave. While the statutory sick leave is 5 days, companies can opt to offer a more generous sick pay policy for their employees.

Public holidays in Ireland

Employees in Ireland have the right to 10 public holidays annually, regardless of whether they work full-time or part-time. When public holidays occur on a weekend, they are typically rescheduled to a weekday as a day off in place of the original date. If a public holiday falls on a day when an employee would normally work, they are entitled to a paid day off, a paid day off within a month, an additional day of annual leave, or an additional day’s pay.

Unpaid leave policy in Ireland

There is no automatic unpaid leave entitlement under Ireland’s employment law. In general, the unpaid leave policy in Ireland allows employees to take unpaid time off work for various reasons. The employer and employee agree on the length of unpaid leave, with the understanding that the employee will return to work on a specific date, and the employer will hold the employee’s job open until that date.

Meanwhile, there is one specific provision for unpaid leave covering medical care. As of July 3, 2023, employees in Ireland have the entitlement to take up to five days of unpaid leave in any period of 12 consecutive months for the purpose of providing medical care or support to specific persons as specified in the legislation. This provision aims to support employees who need to attend to serious medical care for a child or another relevant person, such as a family member.

Maternity and paternity leave in Ireland

How long is maternity leave in Ireland?

In Ireland, employees have the right to take 26 weeks or 156 days of maternity leave if they become pregnant, followed by the option to take up to 16 weeks of unpaid leave. This right applies regardless of whether the employee is working full-time, part-time, or in a casual capacity. Employees are also entitled to take at least two weeks of maternity leave before the end of the week of the expected birth of their baby, and at least four weeks after.

The eligibility for paid maternity leave in Ireland is tied to the worker’s contributions to Pay Related Social Insurance (PRSI). To qualify for maternity benefits, an individual must have paid sufficient PRSI contributions in the relevant tax years leading up to the claim for the benefit. Specifically, to be eligible for maternity benefit, the individual must:

  • Have at least 39 weeks of PRSI paid up to the end of the 12th week, before the expected week of childbirth. Employees who have maintained their PRSI contributions are entitled to avail of paid maternity leave benefits provided by the Department of Social Protection.
  • At least 39 weeks of PRSI have been paid since the start of employment, and at least 39 weeks have been paid or credited in the relevant tax year or the tax year immediately following the relevant tax year.
  • At least 26 weeks of PRSI were paid in the relevant tax year, and at least 26 weeks of PRSI paid in the tax year immediately before the relevant tax year.

The weekly standard rate of the maternity benefit is €274.

Extended maternity leaves in Ireland

After the initial 26 weeks of paid maternity leave, working mothers in Ireland have the option to take 16 weeks of additional unpaid maternity leave. During this unpaid period, employees are not entitled to receive payment from their employer or the Department of Social Protection. However, employees are still protected by employment rights and are entitled to return to their job after the additional maternity leave period.

How long is paternity leave in Ireland?

Paternity leave in Ireland allows new parents to take 2 weeks off from work, which applies to both employed and self-employed individuals. The leave can be taken at any time within the first 6 months after the birth of the baby. Fathers can also take paternity leave when adopting a child.

The Paternity Leave and Benefit Act 2016 provides the legal framework for paternity leave in Ireland. The Act allows for two weeks of leave to be taken by a “relevant parent,” which typically refers to fathers, but can also include same-sex couples. Employers are required to keep records of their employees’ paternity leave and must retain these records for a minimum of 8 years.

The paternity leave benefit, which consists of €274 per week, is available for two consecutive weeks. Individuals covered by PRSI are eligible for this benefit.

Parental leave benefits in Ireland

Each parent in Ireland has the right to 7 weeks of leave during the first two years of a child’s life. The entitlement for parents is the same in the case of adoption, which must be within two years of the placement of the child following adoption. To be eligible, employees must have completed at least one year of employment and must submit a written request for parental leave to their employer at least six weeks prior to the desired start date.

Parent’s Benefit is a scheme available in Ireland that provides a payment to parents who take parental leave from work. It was introduced on November 1, 2019. To qualify for Parent’s Benefit, individuals must have sufficient social insurance (PRSI) contributions. Parental leave can be taken for 26 weeks continuously or can be divided into shorter periods with the agreement of the employer.

Is there an age limit for parental leave?

In Ireland, there is no age limit for parents to take parental leave. However, they must take the parental leave before their child is 12 years of age, or 16 years of age in the case of a child with a disability or long-term illness.

Adoption leave in Ireland

Adoption Leave Act in Ireland

The Adoption Leave Act in Ireland is the legislation that entitles female employees, and in certain circumstances, male employees, to take employment leave for the purpose of child adoption. The Act also extends the protection against unfair dismissal conferred by the Unfair Dismissals Act, 1977, and provides for related matters.

How long is adoption leave in Ireland?

The adoptive parent or nominated adoptive parent who is employed is eligible for a minimum of 24 consecutive weeks of adoptive leave, starting on the day the child is placed with them. They can also receive up to 16 weeks of additional adoptive leave.

During adoptive leave, the adoptive parent may be eligible for the Adoptive Benefit, which is a payment made to the parent who is on adoptive leave and covered by social insurance (PRSI). The Adoptive Benefit is paid at a rate of €274 per week for 24 weeks.

Other leaves in Ireland

Employees in Ireland are entitled to different types of leave from work, in addition to annual leave and sick leave. Some common types of leave entitlements for employees in Ireland are as follows:

Bereavement leave

There is currently no statutory entitlement to bereavement leave in Ireland. However, it is a common practice for employers to offer some form of bereavement leave as part of their company policies. In most cases, employers in Ireland will provide a few days of paid leave to their employees to allow them time to grieve and attend to funeral arrangements. The number of days granted may vary depending on the employer’s policy.

Jury service leave

Citizens in Ireland are entitled to a Jury service leave to take time off work to fulfil their civic duty without facing any disadvantages from their employers. According to the law, employers in Ireland are required to pay their employees for the duration of their jury service and cannot dismiss or disadvantage them in any way because of their absence for jury duty.

Force majeure leave

Employees in Ireland are entitled to a limited paid force majeure leave for specific emergency situations. This type of leave offers support for unforeseen emergencies or urgent family situations.

Career break or study leave

There is no automatic right to take unpaid leave for a career break or study leave. Some employers allow this kind of leave. Employees can negotiate with their employers if the contract does not cover study leave or a career break.

Public holidays in Ireland

1 January
New Year’s Day
5 February
St. Brigid’s Day
17 March
Saint Patrick’s Day
1 April
Easter Monday
6 May
May Day
3 June
June Bank Holiday
5 August
August Bank Holiday
28 October
October Bank Holiday
25 December
Christmas Day
26 December
Saint Stephen’s Day

Working on a public holiday in Ireland

Employees are generally entitled to paid leave on these public holidays if they are normally scheduled to work on those days. Employees in Ireland who work on a public holiday are entitled to additional compensation, known as ‘public holiday pay,’ according to the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997. The exact rate of public holiday pay depends on the employee’s normal working hours and the terms of their employment contract.

Typically, employees who work on a public holiday will receive either a paid day off in lieu or enhanced pay for the hours worked. Depending on the agreement between the employer and employee, the employee may receive twice their normal rate of pay for working on a public holiday.

Public holiday while on sick leave in Ireland

In Ireland, the entitlement to sick leave on public holidays depends on the specific circumstances and the employer’s policy. Generally, when an employee is on a sick leave and a public holiday coincides with their sick leave period, they are still eligible to enjoy the benefits of the public holiday as if they were not on sick leave.

Expand globally with CXC

We understand the importance of providing comprehensive benefits to attract and retain top-tier talent in Ireland. At CXC, we’ll help you find the right talent anywhere while providing compliant employment contracts, compensation, and benefits. We’ll handle the time-consuming administrative and HR tasks associated with hiring international talent, so you can focus on growing your business.

Speak to our team today and learn more about how to hire top talent in Ireland quickly and compliantly.

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