In accordance with the provisions of the Carer’s Leave Act, 2001, if an employee has completed 12 months’ continuous service with you; he or she is entitled to take unpaid Carer’s Leave in order to care for a person (a ‘Relevant Person’) who requires full-time care and attention. Carer’s Leave is protected leave.
A ‘Relevant Person’
A ‘Relevant Person’ is a person who is over the age of 16 and is so incapacitated as to require full-time care and attention or a person who is under 16 and in receipt of a Domiciliary Care Allowance. A Deciding Officer of the Department of Social Protection determines whether or not an individual qualifies as a ‘Relevant Person’. Employees may be entitled to receive Carer’s Benefit/Carer’s Allowance whilst on leave. You should inform employees that they should apply to the Carer’s Benefit Section at their local Social Welfare Office so their eligibility can be assessed. There is no statutory obligation on you as an employer to pay employees during Carer’s Leave.
Other than their right to remuneration, you should treat employees as though they have been working during a period of Carer’s Leave. Annual Leave and Public Holidays will accrue as normal for employees during the first 13 weeks of Carer’s Leave. The minimum statutory entitlement is 13 leave weeks and the maximum period is 104 weeks. The 104 weeks (2 years) can be taken in one continuous block or it can be broken up into multiple separate periods of leave – there must be a gap of at least 6 weeks between periods of Carer’s Leave.
If one of your employees intends to avail of Carer’s Leave then he or she should write to you not less than 6 weeks before the proposed commencement of the leave in order to apply for this leave. The application should include the following details:
- The manner in which the employee intends to take the leave
- The proposed commencement date and, where possible, end date (this won’t always be possible – especially if the ‘Relevant Person’ is terminally ill; for instance)
- That he or she has made an application to the Department of Social Protection for a decision to be made in respect of the person for whom they propose to avail of the leave
A confirmation document should be signed by you and the employee prior to the commencement of Carer’s Leave.
If the employee would like to return to work on a different date than previously agreed (if one was agreed) then he or she should provide you with a ‘Notice of Return to Work’ not less than 4 weeks prior to the intended return date.
Termination of Carer’s Leave
Carer’s Leave may be terminated for several reasons. If it becomes apparent that the person for whom the care is being provided is not in need of full-time care any longer for whatever reason, you may terminate the leave. The Department of Social Protection will make a decision in certain instances.
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