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Parental leave legislation in Ireland was first implemented in 1998. The legislation enabled both parents to take up to 18 weeks’ unpaid leave for each child under the age of eight. As from September 1st, 2019, new, improved legislation has come into force. The new law entitles all parents to take up to 22 weeks of unpaid parental leave. This increase in entitlement reflects the need for parents to find a more manageable work/life balance. Balance is something for which we hear a lot of demand from our actuarial contacts. The new parental leave legislation also raises the age of children to whom this applies, from eight years to 12 years. This is extremely helpful and recognises the reality that older children need their parents too.

The legislation provides for parental leave to be taken in one continuous period, or in two separate blocks of a minimum of six weeks. Employers can agree to allow parents to take leave in smaller increments, e.g. in working days, or even reduced hours.

Whilst this legislation is largely welcomed by employees, it can be difficult for actuarial managers and leaders to grant parental leave during the seasonal pressures of actuarial work. Asking for parental leave during the peak actuarial reporting season , or the reinsurance renewal period, may not go down well. Emergencies will, of course, always be agreed to.

When moving roles, it’s always a good idea for actuaries to enquire about the policy wording around parental leave (if this is relevant to your situation). We encourage all actuaries to take advantage of parental leave; children grow up very fast, and you’ll never get a second chance to see a child’s first step, or their first school play. While mothers have often embraced this opportunity, fathers have been slower to do so.

A new paid parental leave scheme which allows parents to take two weeks’ paid leave each during their child’s first year is expected from November 2019. This is set to increase on a phased basis over the next three years. This paid leave must be taken in the child’s first year of life.

Actuaries, both male and femle will welcome this new development. We are sure that this development will encourage more parents to take some time out.

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