The Parental Leave (Amendment) Act 2019 (the "Act"), which extends the applicability and duration of parental leave, came into effect on 19 July 2019. A review of the legislation prior to its enactment is available here.
At present, the Parental Leave Acts 1998 and 2006 entitle parents of, or persons acting in loco parentis to, children aged up to 8 years (or up to 16 years if the child has a disability or long-term illness) to 18 working weeks of parental leave in respect of each child. The Act provides for a phased extension to the current entitlements. Eligible parents will see their parental leave entitlement increase from 18 to 22 weeks from 1 September 2019 and from 22 to 26 weeks from 1 September 2020. The additional 8 weeks provided for under the legislation will be made available to those parents who have already availed of the existing 18-week entitlement. The Act also increases the age of the child up to which parental leave can be taken from 8 years to 12 years.
The aim of these changes is to provide more flexibility to working parents and to increase the uptake of parental leave. Employers should consider revising their parental leave policies in advance of the changes taking effect.