Frequently asked questions

Each parent is entitled to take 26 weeks parental leave per child.

This leave is available until your child turns sixteen. (Until 2024, parental leave expired when children turned thirteen, with an exception for parents of children with long-term illnesses or disabilities. This was amended by Information Note TC/IN 10/2023.)

If you’re not sure how much parental leave you have already used, your school should be able to give you a print-out from the OLCS.

Apply to your school with six weeks’ notice, using the form here (PDF) at Appendix A of Chapter 5, circular 54/2019.
Generally, yes.

An exception may be made if a child has medical problems which require attendance at hospital, clinical or therapeutic appointments on a regular basis. In these circumstances, you would provide certification from the hospital or clinic in respect of the absences.

Generally, no.

An exception may be made if a child has medical problems which require attendance at hospital, clinical or therapeutic appointments on a regular basis. In these circumstances, you would provide certification from the hospital or clinic in respect of the absences.

Using more than 26 weeks in a single school year is possible, at the discretion of your employer.

There are 36 working weeks in the school year so if you have more than one child, and your employer approves your leave request, you may be able to take the full school year with parental leave.

Your school may also approve up to ten single days of unpaid leave during the course of a school year.

If you apply to take parental leave during a school closure, you will remain off-salary during that closure.

However, you may apply to stop and start your parental leave around school closures, and in that case, you will return to salary for the closure as you will not be on leave during the closure.

(For instance, if you want to take parental leave from September to Christmas, you could apply to take it in two blocks: from September to the start of the October mid-term, and from first day of school in November until the start of the Christmas break. Because you are not applying to take any leave during the October midterm, you will return to salary for that week.)

You cannot take half a week of parental leave, but your school may approve unpaid leave for you instead. (For instance, if your school is closing on a Thursday for Christmas – you may prefer to request four days of unpaid leave, Monday to Thursday inclusive, rather than a full seven-day block of parental leave.)

See Chapter 11 of circular 54/2019 here (PDF) for details of unpaid leave.

No, it’s fine to end the school year on parental leave. As soon as your leave ends, you will return to normal salary regardless of whether the school is open or closed.
You must be continuously employed for a full year with the same school in order to be eligible to take your full 26 weeks of parental leave.

If you have been continuously employed for less than a full year but more than three months, you will be entitled to take parental leave for a period of one week for each month of service completed. (eg a teacher with four months of service completed will be eligible to take four weeks of parental leave.)

No, parental leave can commence on any day of the week, as long as it’s being taken in full seven-day blocks (eg Monday to Sunday, Wednesday to Tuesday, etc.).
Your employer may only refuse parental leave if they have reasonable grounds to believe you are not entitled to it. In this instance, they must notify you of the reasons for the proposed refusal, and you must be given the opportunity to make representations on your own behalf.

If you are eligible for your parental leave, your employer cannot refuse it.

However, they do have the discretion to postpone your leave, if granting the dates you’ve requested would have a “substantial adverse effect on the operation of the school.”

If your school wishes to postpone your parental leave, they must notify you of this with at least four weeks’ notice and agree new dates which fall within six months of the dates originally requested.

Parental leave can only be postponed once in respect of a particular child, or on two occasions if the postponement is due to seasonal variations in work.

If you have requested a period of parental leave which is more than six weeks in duration, the minimum which must be approved by your employer is six weeks.

If you and your partner have the same employer (ie if you work in the same school), you may transfer up to 14 weeks of parental leave from one parent to the other.
Parental leave may be granted where a teacher is acting in loco parentis.

It is a matter for the employer to be satisfied that the granting of Parental Leave is appropriate.

In accordance with the Parental Leave Acts: “In loco parentis means the teacher applying for Parental Leave must be either legally responsible for or fulfil the criterion that he or she is actively parenting the child on an on-going basis.”

It is possible to either suspend or postpone your parental leave if you are too ill to care for your child.

You should provide medical certification to your school, and if you wish to avail of the suspended portion of parental leave, you must resume parental leave as soon as you are fit to do so.

When approving your parental leave, your employer should complete a Confirmation Document (found here (PDF) at Appendix B of the Chapter 5, 54/2019), four weeks before your leave is due to commence.

When this form has been completed and signed, it constitutes a contract between you and your employer, and any changes may only be made with the agreement of both parties.

If a Confirmation Document has not been signed by both parties, you may amend your requested leave.

No, you cannot take up any paid employment while on parental leave.
Time on parental leave will count toward your incremental progression.
You are still in employment while on a parental leave, so you will return to service on the same pension scheme. (It is not a “break in service”.)

However, you won’t make pension contributions while you’re not receiving a salary, so if you have taken a lot of unpaid leave, you may wish to consider buying Notional Service or Additional Retirement Benefit through DE Primary Pensions, or contributing to AVCs, in order to make up any shortfall in your contributions. Cornmarket can provide financial planning advice to INTO members.

You should also claim credited PRSI contributions from the DSP for any periods of parental leave. See Citizens Information for details, here.

You should contact the relevant providers to whom you’re paying these deductions and arrange an alternative means of payment.
During periods of statutory unpaid leave, like parental leave, you can maintain your INTO membership for up to two years without charge.

Contact membershiproi@into.ie with the details of your unpaid leave, and the Membership team will ensure that your membership remains live throughout.

Please include your DE Payroll number so Membership can confirm your identity.

Some teachers apply to take their parental leave every second week, creating an arrangement akin to a job share.

Some teachers have sought to take their parental leave on alternating weeks with a colleague who also has parental leave available, asking to be allocated to the
same class as that colleague, on a week on, week-off arrangement.

The substitute who is covering for this pair of teachers may then be allocated to another single class, at the discretion of the principal.

It is important to note that if such an arrangement is approved, this does not constitute a job-sharing arrangement but rather two individual teachers availing of statutory parental leave entitlements on alternating weeks.

Parental Leave is a statutory entitlement, and an eligible teacher may apply for it in line with the rules set out in Chapter 5 of circular 54/2019 (PDF).

However, your employer may limit the number of weeks of parental leave that will be approved. If you apply for parental leave for a period of more than six weeks, then six weeks is the minimum that must be approved.

Your employer can also postpone the commencement of your parental leave by up to six months, if “granting the leave at that time would have a substantial adverse effect on the operation of the school.”

In a job share, you will be paid at your job-sharing rate of pay for the full duration of the job share, from 1 September to 31 August.

When a teacher is approved to take parental leave on alternate weeks, they are a full-time teacher, availing of their parental leave. They will receive their full-time rate of pay during school closures and other periods when they have not applied for parental leave.

Chapter 5 of circular 54/2019 (PDF), and on the INTO help and advice page here.