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16th May 2024

What’s the difference between Parent’s Leave and Parental Leave in Ireland?

Sophie Collins

Parental Leave and Parent's Leave

Believe it or not, Parent’s Leave and Parental Leave are two different things

Whether you’re welcoming a bundle of joy into your family or adopting a little one, we’ve got the lowdown on everything you need to know about Parental Leave and Parent’s Leave.

It can be a minefield trying to navigate the different benefits and time off you’re now entitled to as a new mum or dad.

One of the most important things you need as a parent is time off for when your little one needs something – whether that’s an appointment, when they’re sick, when the creche is closed, the list goes on and on.

That’s where both Parental Leave and Parent’s Leave come in handy – but what’s the difference between the two?

Parental leave entitles parents to take unpaid leave from work to spend time looking after their children. 

Since September 1st, 2020, both parents have been able to take up to 26 weeks parental leave as long as their child is under 12.

Parent's Leave

Parent’s leave is specifically for parents during the child’s first 2 years.

Paternity leave is specifically for new parents in their child’s first 6 months – usually the father or the partner of the mother.

Other statutory entitlements available for parents are maternity leave and adoptive leave.

Here are the differences between the main types of leave for parents in Ireland:

Maternity leave

This is available to female employees in Ireland. It can last for 26 weeks and up to 16 unpaid weeks. Maternity Benefit is paid for 26 weeks.

Adoptive Leave

This is available for one parent of the adoptive couple, or a parent adopting alone. It is paid for up to 24 weeks and up to 16 unpaid weeks. Adoptive Benefit is paid for 24 weeks.

Paternity Leave

This is for new parents of children under 6 months of age (usually the father or the partner of the mother, or in the case of adoption, the parent who is not taking adoptive leave). It can last two weeks and is fully paid for those two weeks.

Parental Leave

Parental Leave is for parents and guardians of children under 12. It can be taken for 26 weeks, however, it is unpaid time off.

Parent’s Leave

This is for parents of children under 2 years of age or parents of adopted children in the first 2 years of the placement of the child. It lasts seven weeks from 1 July 2022 and is paid for all seven weeks.


Who can take parent’s leave?

Relevant parents can take parent’s leave for eligible children. A relevant parent is one of the following:

  • A parent of the child
  • A spouse, civil partner or cohabitant of the parent of the child
  • A parent of a donor-conceived child as provided for under section 5 of the Children and Family Relationships Act 2015
  • The adopting parent or parents of a child
  • The spouse, civil partner or spouse of the adopting parent of the child (if the parents have not adopted jointly)

How can I take parent’s leave?

You can take this leave as:

  • One continuous period of 7 weeks leave or
  • Separate periods of not less than one week

Parent’s leave cannot be transferred between parents – except in specified circumstances such as the death of one of the parents.

For more information, click here.