Adoptive Leave Acts of 1995 and 2005

Adoptive Leave Act, 1995 (Extension of Periods of Leave) Order, 2006

A sole male adopter or adopting mother in employment who starts his/her adoptive leave after 1 March 2007 is allowed 24 consecutive weeks of unpaid adoptive leave and an additional 16 weeks of unpaid leave.

Generally, this leave would begin on the day the placement commences, but, in the case of an overseas adoption, some or all of the leave of absence can occur immediately preceding the day of placement.

In the unfortunate circumstances where the adopting mother has died, an adopting father in employment is also entitled to specific leave prior to or during the period of adoptive leave.

Employees are required by law to submit in writing at least 4 weeks’ notice of his/her intention

  • To begin adoptive leave
  • To take additional leave
  • To return to employment

It is required that an employer be informed of the date when the placement will begin and given a certificate of placement. This must be provided as soon as realistically possible but at all events not later than 4 weeks after the date of placement.

There are no expectations that employers should pay employees who take adoptive leave, but if the employee qualifies, social welfare benefit is payable for the initial 24-week leave period.

After the leave has finished, the employee has the right to return to his/her job or a similar position, as long as the required notice has been given to the employer.

Any employee who is absent from employment on adoptive leave (including additional adoptive leave) is entitled to the usual benefits associated with his/her previous position including annual leave and public holidays (except remuneration). Annual leave shall be given by the employer in consultation with Section 20 of the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997.

The Adoptive Leave Act 2005 highlights several improvements and additional rights for adoptive parents. It allows parents to take some restricted paid time away from work to attend adoption information sessions and meetings. In addition, it permits the flexibility of additional adoptive leave in cases where the adoptive parent is sick and for the postponement of the leave where the child is hospitalised, subject to the employer’s agreement.

Enforcement Procedures

In cases where disputes arise, they should be notified to the Rights Commissioner within six months of the placement date or within six months of the date of first attestation of the desire to take the leave (or one year in “exceptional circumstances”). Disputes can be made by the employer or employee. In cases where the employee is not permitted to return to work, these will be heard under the Unfair Dismissals Acts.

In cases where the Rights Commissioner finds in favour of the adoptive parent compensation may be awarded from the employer. This amount should be considered fair and just by the Commissioner with consideration of all the circumstances, but should not exceed the total of 20 weeks’ salary.