Welcome to RBK's HR Solutions - HR Update for April 2021.
On 25th March 2021, the Family Leave and Miscellaneous Provisions Bill 2021 was enacted by Dáil Éireann, and as a result, changes to Parent’s Leave are now in force since the beginning of April 2021.
The Family Leave and Miscellaneous Provisions Act 2021 amends the Parent’s Leave and Benefit Act 2019, extending Parent’s Leave from two (2) weeks to five (5) weeks, for each parent after their child’s birth or adoption.
The Parent’s Leave and Benefit Act 2019 introduced two (2) weeks of paid Parent’s Leave for each parent, to be taken in the first year after the birth or adoptive placement of a child. Following the enactment of the 2021 Act, an additional three (3) weeks of paid leave will be granted to each parent, and the period in which the leave can be taken will be extended to the first two (2) years after the birth or adoptive placement of a child. Parents who have taken two (2) week’s Parent’s Leave prior to the enactment of the 2021 Act, will now have an entitlement to an additional three (3) weeks. The leave is available to parents whose child was born on or after 1st November 2019. Parent’s Benefit is paid by the Department of Social Protection, provided employees have enough PRSI contributions. Employers are advised to update their existing Family Leave Policies to reflect these changes introduced by the 2021 Act.
The Family Leave and Miscellaneous Provisions Act 2021 also amends the Adoptive Leave Acts 1995 and 2005 to enable all adopting couples, same-sex and opposite sex, to choose which parent may avail of Adoptive Leave.
Prior to the enactment of the 2021 Act, Adoptive Leave was only available to a female employee adopting a child, or a single adopting father. An adopting father, other than a sole male adopter, was only entitled to the leave if the adopting mother died. Therefore, a married male same-sex couple could not avail of the leave.
This is a significant amendment for married male same-sex adoptive couples who were excluded from availing of this leave due to a legislative anomaly. This will also remove the presumption of the adoptive mother being the primary caregiver of an adopted child.
Being able to choose which parent takes the leave will provide more flexibility and gives families the opportunity to choose the best option for their family. The parent who does not avail of Adoptive Leave will be entitled to Paternity Leave i.e. two (2) weeks which must be taken within the first 26 weeks of the adoption of a child.
Under the Adoptive Leave Acts, an eligible employee is entitled to 24 weeks of leave, from the date the child is placed in his/her care. Adoptive Benefit may be available from the Department of Social Protection, provided employees have enough PRSI contributions. An additional 16 week’s leave may be taken but Adoptive Benefit is not available during this period.
Employers are advised to update their existing Family Leave Policies to reflect these changes introduced by the 2021 Act.
Right to Disconnect
A Code of Practice giving employees the ‘right to disconnect’ from work and not engage in electronic communications outside of their normal working hours came into effect in Ireland on 1st April 2021.
The Code of Practice sets out guidance for employees and employers about employee disengagement outside normal working hours, including the right to not respond immediately to emails, telephone calls or other messages. It applies to all types of employment, whether an individual is working remotely or not.
The Code introduces three main elements:
- The right of an employee to not have to routinely perform work outside their normal working hours
- The right not to be penalised for refusing to attend to work matters outside of normal working hours
- The duty to respect another person’s right to disconnect (e.g. by not routinely emailing or calling outside normal work hours).
The Code effectively amounts to an extension of existing Irish employment law rights, in that the expectation is that organisations will have to create a culture in which employees feel that they can disconnect from work and work-related devices and communications. It recognises that a joint approach is required in order to create this culture and determine appropriate working arrangements.
The Code recommends that employers engage proactively with employees or their unions to develop a Right to Disconnect Policy, and also sets out best practice guidance on how employers and employees should manage the right to disconnect and how to raise concerns.
While placing the onus of management of working time on the employer is appropriate, individual responsibility on the part of employees is also required (for example: being mindful of other colleagues’ right to disconnect or cooperating with any employer mechanism to keep a record of hours worked).
The Code was developed by the Workplace Relations Commission, following a request by the Tánaiste in November 2020.
Further Temporary Extension of Immigration Permissions
The Minister for Justice, has announced a further temporary extension of immigration and international protection permissions to 20th September 2021. This applies to permissions that are due to expire between 21st April 2021 and 20th September 2021 and includes permissions that have already been extended since March 2020.
The temporary extension of immigration permissions means that people who held a valid permission to be in the State in March 2020 are legally permitted to remain until 20 September 2021, even if their Irish Residence Permit (IRP) card has expired and they are awaiting a new one. Renewal is on the same basis as the existing permission and the same conditions will continue to apply.
Please do not hesitate to contact Yvonne Clarke, HR Solutions Manager should you require further details on any of the above.