The Parent’s Leave and Benefit Act 2019 introduced two weeks of Parent’s Leave and Benefit for each parent of a child born or adopted after 1 November 2019. As provided for in Budget 2021, Parent’s Leave and Benefit have been extended from 2 weeks to 5 weeks for each parent. These additional weeks are available to parents in respect of children born or adopted on or after 1st November 2019.
The period during which this leave can be taken has also been extended from 12 to 24 months so it can be taken up to a child's second birthday or within two years following adoption. These changes, which came into effect from 1 April 2021, enhance the flexibility of the scheme to make it easier for parents to avail of Parent’s Benefit.
Parent’s Benefit is paid at a weekly flat rate of €245 for 5 weeks to employed and self-employed people who satisfy certain pay related social insurance (PRSI) contribution and other conditions. The rate of Parent’s Benefit is in line with the rates of Paternity Benefit, Adoptive Benefit and Maternity Benefit.
A number of employers top up their employee’s Parent’s Benefit in much the same way as they offer to top up Maternity and Paternity benefit. These arrangements are discretionary private contractual arrangements agreed between employers and workers and, as such, are outside the realm of Social Welfare legislation.
Since the changes to Parent’s Benefit came into effect, the Department of Social Protection has awarded Parent’s Benefit to some 30,570 parents at a cost of over €23 million. Since the start of this year, some 37,926 applications for Parent’s Benefit have been awarded compared to 15,729 for the whole of 2020.
Any decisions in relation to the rate of Parent’s Benefit would have to be considered in a budgetary context.