On 8 March 2013 the Minister for Justice, Alan Shatter signed the European Union (Parental Leave) Regulations 2013 (SI 81/2013) into law, transposing the provisions of the revised Parental Leave Directive (EU Council Directive 2010/18/EU).

Under the Regulations, the entitlement to unpaid parental leave has been increased from 14 to 18 weeks. The Regulations also give parents a right to request a change in working hours for a set period on return from parental leave. Employers are not required to grant it, but under the Regulations they must now at least consider it.

Parents can avail of the leave for each child under eight, but are limited to 18 weeks per year if they have more than one child except in the case of twins.

At the end of last year, the Government announced its plans for a Family Leave Bill 2013 which will consolidate all family leave legislation (parental leave, maternity leave, adoptive leave and carer’s leave) into one Act.

The Bill has not yet been published. However it is listed in the current Government legislation for publication before the Easter recess so it could appear over the next few weeks.