Ireland: The Juggling Act

Last Updated: 22 May 2019
Article by Ciara Ní Longaigh

The proposal for an EU Directive on Work-Life Balance ("the Directive") for parents and family carers aims to provide greater flexibility to people in terms of leave and better balance between work and life. This Directive will overhaul (and ultimately repeal) the existing framework around paternity, parental and carers' leave from the EU. The Directive is part of an overall initiative of the EU to support parents and carers in the labour market and to better share such leave between men and women equally. From an Irish perspective, we are ahead of the curve, with many of the proposed changes already in place, or on the way in the coming months.

Paternity Leave

Irish parents (other than the mother of the child) are entitled to two weeks' leave from work following the birth or adoption of their child. This leave can start at any time within the first six months of the birth or adoption of the child. Payment from an employer for this leave depends on the employee's contract of employment. Statutory paternity benefit is available to parents (currently €245 per week, where eligible).

In the EU, there is no minimum standard for paternity leave and it is applied differently across each Member State. The new Directive will introduce paternity leave as an individual and non-transferable right. Parents (other than the mother) will be able to take at least 10 working days of paternity leave around the time of the birth of the child. The leave must be paid at least to the level of sick pay. The current Irish legislation will comply with the proposed Directive. Paternity benefit currently exceeds the level of illness benefit paid by the state to eligible employees on a weekly basis.

Parental Leave

Parents are permitted to take 18 weeks' unpaid leave per child (once certain additional conditions are met). If both parents work for the same employer, then it is possible to transfer up to 14 of the 18 weeks' leave from one parent to the other parent. From November 2019, the Parental Leave and Benefit Bill 2019 is expected to introduce two weeks paid parental benefit for the first time in Ireland. The paid element is intended to increase incrementally from two to seven weeks paid leave by 2021. The Government has focussed on the development bond between a male parent particularly, and a new child – with the proviso that the parent will only qualify for paid parental benefit taken during the first year of the child's life.

Under the Directive, each parent will be entitled to the same four months' leave, however, in an effort to encourage a more balanced take up of the leave, particularly from male parents, there will be a restriction from transferring two months' leave to the other parent. Parents will also be able to request to take the leave in a more flexible form than the existing requirement to take blocks of 6 weeks. Requests for remote working, part-time work and other flexible arrangements must be considered. It will be the Irish Government's responsibility to put some structure around how this will work.

Separately, the Directive speaks of incentivising, men in particular, to take this leave, and to ensure they do so, require Member States to pay an allowance (to the equivalent of illness benefit), and in alignment with maternity and paternity pay. Ireland is again ahead of the curve on this, as mentioned above.

Carers' Leave

In Ireland, the broad concept of carers' leave involves a temporary unpaid absence from work for at least 13 weeks (and not more than 104 weeks) to provide full-time care to someone. Eligible employees will receive carer's benefit, which currently amounts to €220 per week.

An individual right to carers' leave is currently not recognised at an EU level. Under the proposed Directive, all employees will have the right to five working days of carers' leave per year. Interestingly, the proposed Directive does not require payment of any state allowance to employees who take carers' leave.

Flexible Working Arrangements

The emphasis of the proposed Directive is to ensure that female employees continue to contribute to the workforce. It is recognised that there is a significant underrepresentation of women in the workplace, primarily because of the difficulty in balancing work and family obligations. The European Parliament specifically calls out that females who have sick or dependant relatives can end up dropping out of the labour market entirely.

The proposed Directive will facilitate every employee with children up to eight years of age, and carers, and will ensure that such individuals have a right to request flexible working arrangements. This includes:

  1. Reduced working hours
  2. Flexible working hours
  3. Remote working options

Unlike other Member States, there is currently no legislative provision in Ireland governing the right to request flexible working. It is likely that the publication of the Directive will require legislative changes in Ireland to put structure around the application process, and the extent to which an employee may have the right to enforce a reasonable request for flexible working arrangements.

Conclusion

Ultimately, the most significant impact of the proposed Directive from an Irish perspective, will be the introduction of the right of parents and carers to request flexible working arrangements. Once the proposed Directive becomes effective, Ireland will have three years in which to comply with the new requirements. As the proposed Directive is now at the final stage and awaiting Council approval, the clock will start ticking in the coming months. Many Irish employers have already started to introduce a flexible working policy, following the increased global movement towards more versatile working arrangements. Flexible working policies are extremely useful to set out how requests for flexible working arrangements will operate. It is important to note that the right to request flexibility is not a right to be granted flexibility, and employers will have the discretion to consider, but postpone and refuse requests in certain circumstances.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Authors
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
 
In association with
Related Topics
 
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Related Articles
 
Up-coming Events Search
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
Mondaq on Twitter
 
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.

Disclaimer

The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.

General

Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions