Where a parent needs to take time off work because their child is off school due to Covid-19 they can ask their employer for paid leave. Employers may be flexible in assisting employees with care arrangements. This could include offering paid compassionate leave, allowing a person to work from home or altering their shift pattern where possible. These arrangements are discretionary arrangements agreed between employers and workers and, as such, are outside the realm of Social Welfare legislation.
Where a person cannot arrange for paid leave from their employer, they can apply for leave under a statutory scheme such as force majeure leave. Force majeure leave is leave with pay for urgent family reasons owing to the injury or illness of an immediate relative.
Parental Leave allows parents take unpaid leave from work to spend time looking after their children. A person can take up to 26 weeks’ parental leave for each eligible child before their 12th birthday. Normally a person is required to give their employer 6 weeks’ notice if they want to take or Parental leave, but employers can be asked to waive this notice period.
Parents can also avail of their entitlement to Parent's Leave. Parent’s leave entitles each parent to 5 weeks’ leave during the first 2 years of a child’s life, or in the case of adoption, within 2 years of the placement of the child with the family. Parent’s Benefit of €250 per week is paid to eligible parents who satisfy certain PRSI conditions while on Parent’s Leave. As with Parental Leave, employers can be asked to waive the six-weeks' notice period required for Parent's Leave.
Arrangements for statutory leave such as Force Majeure, Parental Leave and Parent's Leave are the responsibility of my colleague the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth.
An Exceptional Needs Payment, under the Supplementary Welfare Allowance Scheme, is a single payment to help meet essential, once-off, exceptional costs, which a person could not reasonably be expected to meet out of their weekly income.
I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.