Wednesday, 17 February 2021

Questions (390)

Cathal Crowe

Question:

390. Deputy Cathal Crowe asked the Minister for Education if the rule that dictates teachers returning to school can only avail of the special amendment to take parental leave, in which their child is under 13 years of age and they do not have childcare, can be changed in view of the fact that some parents have children with special needs in their teenage years and cannot find appropriate care for them. [8222/21]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The Parental Leave Scheme is regulated by the Parental Leave Act 1998, as amended. The Parental Leave Scheme for teachers is contained in Chapter 5 of my Department’s Circular Letter 54/2019. An eligible teacher is entitled to up to a maximum of 26 weeks Parental Leave in respect of each child up to the age of 13 years or the age of 16 years in the case of a child with a disability and/or long-term illness.

In relation to the pattern of Parental Leave, paragraph 4.1 of the Parental Leave Scheme states:

4.1 A teacher may avail of Parental Leave in blocks of at least one week up to a maximum of 22 weeks (26 weeks from 1st September 2020). Please note each period of Parental Leave must be a minimum duration of 7 consecutive days including weekends, school closures and days on which a teacher is not timetabled for attendance occurring within that period.

With regard to the partial re-opening of special schools and special classes at primary and post primary level this month, my Department recently published Information Note 0001/2021 for primary teachers and Information Note 0003/2021 for post primary teachers which details the temporary changes to specific leave schemes and other temporary arrangements during this period.

My Department has made temporary changes to specific terms and conditions of the Parental Leave Scheme, including the pattern of Parental Leave, during this period.

In this regard, paragraph 2.2 (b) and 2.2(c) of Information Note 0001/2021 and Information Note 0003/2021 states the following:

2.2 (b) A teacher may be unable to attend the workplace on certain days during this period, due to specific circumstances. An employer may, having considered the circumstances, approve Parental Leave in blocks of less than one week, where the teacher is eligible to apply for Parental Leave.

2.2 (c) Prior to the approval of such a Parental Leave arrangement, the employer and the teacher must agree in advance, the pattern of workplace attendance, during this period of partial re-opening.

Therefore, where a teacher is eligible to apply for Parental Leave, he/she may make application to their employer for a pattern of Parental Leave on a temporary basis, as detailed at paragraph 2.2(b) and 2.2(c) of my Department’s Information Notes.