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16 August 2016
IR Circ: 2016/04
TO ALL MEMBERS
Re: Paternity Leave and Benefit Act 2016
The new legislation provides that with effect from 1 September 2016, employers will be required to afford relevant workers two weeks off for the purposes of taking paternity leave. Paternity leave is unpaid by the employer as the worker will be in receipt of €230 per week from the State.
Purpose and Scope
The purpose of the Paternity Leave and Benefit Act 2016 is to entitle relevant parents in relation to a child, to employment leave for the purposes of enabling the worker to provide, or assist in the provision of care to the child or to provide support to the relevant adopting parent or mother of the child.
As decided in Budget 2016, the Act provides that as from 1 September 2016, a relevant parent will be entitled to a single period of two weeks of paternity leave and a paternity benefit that will be paid at a rate of €230 per week funded by the Department of Social Protection.
A “relevant parent” for the purposes of the Act, generally means the father of the child. However, the definition also provides for same sex couples on an equal basis with other couples. The Act is clear that only one parent in relation to a child shall be entitled to paternity leave.
In the case of multiple births or where a person adopts two or more children at the same time, a relevant parent shall only be entitled to one period of paternity leave.
An employer can expect written notice of a worker’s intention to take paternity leave as soon as reasonably practicable, but not later than 4 weeks before the expected week of confinement (due date) of the expectant mother, or before the expected day of placement in the case of adoption (save in the case of intercountry adoption).
A relevant parent who gives notice of their intention to take paternity leave, will be expected to give a medical certificate or other appropriate documentation confirming the date of confinement of the expectant mother, or in the case of adoption, a copy of the certificate of placement as soon as practicable but not later than 4 weeks after the day of placement.
Paternity leave shall commence on the day that the relevant parent selects in his/her notification to his/her employer, but not earlier than the date of confinement (birth) or placement in the case of adoption, and not later than 26 weeks after such date. An exception is where the postponement of paternity leave is due to the illness of the relevant parent in which case the leave should not be taken later than 28 weeks after the day of confinement or placement.
Fixed Term Contracts
Where a relevant parent is employed under a contract of employment for a fixed term and the contract expires before the day which would be the last day of his/her paternity leave, then the last day of his/her paternity leave shall be the day on which the contract expires.
Where the date of confinement occurs in a week that is four weeks or more before the expected date of confinement, the relevant parent shall be deemed to have complied with the notice requirements if the notification is given in the period of 7 days commencing on the date of confinement.
Postponement of Paternity leave
Where the day of adoption placement is postponed or the date of confinement occurs after the date selected by a relevant parent outlined in his/her notification, the relevant parent shall be entitled to select another date on which the paternity leave shall commence.
The legislation also provides for postponement of the leave in circumstances where the parent becomes sick or where the child is hospitalised, please contact the federation if you require information on postponement of paternity leave in such circumstances.
An employer is required to keep a record of the paternity leave of his/her workers indicating the period of employment for each worker and the dates and times in respect of which each worker was on paternity leave.
A record of paternity leave made under this section shall be retained by the employer concerned for a period of 8 years after the relevant paternity leave is taken.
Protection of Paternity Leave
Notification of termination or suspension should not be given by an employer while a worker is on paternity leave, as it will be deemed void. Similarly, a worker should not give notice of termination while they are on paternity leave.
Where a worker has been given notice of termination or suspension before the worker commences paternity leave or before the employer has received the worker’s notification of their intention to take paternity leave and it is due to expire during the worker’s absence on paternity leave, it shall be extended until the end of the leave.
A worker who is on paternity leave shall be entitled to return to work with the employer in the job which the worker held before the commencement of the Paternity leave.
The Act also stipulates that an employer shall not penalise, or threaten penalisation of a worker for proposing exercise or having exercised his/her entitlement to paternity leave.
The Act provides for rare and tragic situations such as the death of a parent, a stillbirth or the death of a new born baby. If the baby is stillborn or dies, the entitlement to paternity leave continues and if one parent dies the other parent inherits any paternity leave that has not been taken.
Abuse of Paternity Leave
Where an employer believes that a worker is abusing their entitlement to Paternity leave or if they believe that a worker is not entitled to Paternity leave there are steps that can be taken in line with the legislation. Please contact the Federation for advice on the procedure to be followed in such circumstances.
This circular is not an exhaustive interpretation of the Paternity Leave and Benefit Act 2016. Therefore, if you have any queries on paternity leave please contact the Federation on 014066000.
The above information is also available on the CIF website at www.cif.ie
Industrial Relations and Employment Services