New parental leave Regulations were signed by the Minister for Justice and Equality on 8 March last. The Regulations are designed to give effect to an EU Council Directive 2010/18/EU which implements a revised framework agreement on parental leave.

The key changes implemented in the Regulations are as follows: 

  • An increase in the amount of parental leave available to each parent per child from 14 weeks to 18 weeks.
  • It provides that a parent returning to work following parental leave has the right to ask for a change in their work pattern or hours for a set period. An employer is obliged to consider this request but not required to grant it.

Whilst the increase in the amount of leave will be welcomed by most working parents, parental leave remains, for the vast majority, unpaid leave from work. In the current economic climate and without some financial incentive, it is unlikely that the enhanced rights granted by the new Regulations will lead to a significant uptake in parents taking this type of leave.