Workplace Leave Entitlements: What Changes Are On The Horizon?

HRHQ Labour Court judge

by Tríona Sugrue, Knowledge Lawyer in the Employment Law Practice Group at A&L Goodbody.

The government has recently announced the commencement and extension of key employee leave entitlements. In this article we outline the upcoming changes.

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Domestic Violence Leave to commence on 27 November 2023

The Minister for Children, Equality, Integration and Youth has indicated that the provisions of the Work-life Balance and Miscellaneous Provisions Act 2023 (the WLB Act) regarding domestic violence leave will commence from Monday 27 November 2023.

Under the new law:

  • All employees will have a right to take up to five days’ paid domestic violence leave per year.
  • The purpose of the leave is to enable the employee to for example seek medical attention or legal assistance, obtain victim services, counselling, or relocate.
  • While advance notice of taking the leave is preferable, in certain circumstances, this may not be possible. An employee must, as soon as reasonably practicable, send a notice to their employer confirming they are taking/have taken this leave and specifying the dates.
  • Publication of regulations is awaited to formally bring the leave into effect.

In order to implement domestic violence leave effectively, it is strongly recommended that employers embed the measure within a wider organisational response to domestic abuse, outlined in a workplace domestic violence policy. In this regard, a new website has been developed (dvatwork.ie) which provides detailed guidance and training for employers.

Right to request flexible and remote working

The right to request remote working and the right to request flexible working under the WLB Act require a code of practice to be completed before they commence.  This code of practice is currently under development at the Workplace Relations Commission. The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment has indicated that work in this regard is ongoing, with a working group meeting regularly in order to complete the code.  No set date has been agreed for its finalisation.

The pressure is on to complete it however, as not only has a right to request remote working been in the pipeline since January 2021 when the government launched its ‘Making Remote Work’ strategy, but it has been reported that Ireland is one of three countries being referred to the Court of Justice of the European Union with a possibility of financial sanctions for failing to fully transpose the EU Directive on work-life balance rights for parents and carers. The deadline for transposition of that Directive was 2 August 2022.

Parents Leave

The Minister for Children, Integration and Youth has indicated that by August 2024, the current entitlement to seven weeks parents leave will increase to nine weeks. Parents leave is available to parents within two years of the birth/adoption of a child.

Statutory Sick Pay to increase to five days

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) will increase from three to five days per year from 1 January 2024.  This is in line with the government commitment to gradually increase the entitlement until 2026, when it will reach ten days.

In announcing this measure, the Minister of State for Business, Employment and Retail commented that: “Workers who have more favourable sick pay from their employer will not be impacted.” The WRC recently examined the application of SSP to an employer who has a sick pay scheme which confers benefits that are, as a whole, more favourable than SSP. You can read our article on that case here.

Employers should consider and review their sick leave policies, in light of the imminent extension to SSP.

About the author
Tríona has many years’ experience in advising on all aspects of contentious and non-contentious employment arrangements. Her expertise includes the provision of ongoing support to HR managers in relation to internal reorganisations and rationalisations, terminations, audits of employment-related documentation and transfer of undertakings. She has vast experience representing employers and employees in employment disputes including applications for injunctions, actions for breach of contract and personal injury for stress and bullying; and all claims under employment legislation before the Workplace Relations Commission, the Labour Court and the civil courts.
Having completed a Degree in Law and German at UCC and a Masters Degree in European Law at UCD, Tríona qualified as a solicitor in 2006. She subsequently completed the Diploma in Employment Law at UCD in 2007.
Tríona is a Lecturer and Tutor in Employment Law to students at the Law Society of Ireland.