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Leave entitlements

Annual leave

Each section must ensure that annual leave is taken on a phased basis to minimize disruption. The council will try to cater for immediate situations or unforeseen circumstances where annual leave is required at short notice but apart from this, compliance with the procedures outlined will be insisted upon. Half of your annual leave allocation must be taken together and the remainder allows you opportunity for your casual leave requirements during the year. While every staff member is entitled to annual leave, it is at the discretion of the section head as to when that leave will be taken. It should not be assumed that annual leave will be approved on any particular day or days and accordingly leave should be applied for well in advance. Applications for annual leave must be submitted not less than two days prior to the commencement of leave. Please note that staff availing of the flexi-time scheme will not under any circumstances be approved to carry forward annual leave from the current leave year to the following leave year. Annual leave unavailed of at the end of each March will have to be forfeited.

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Adoptive leave

The Adoptive Leave Act, 1995, provides for:

  • A minimum of ten consecutive weeks of adoptive leave on the day of placement of a child
  • Up to four weeks additional adoptive leave

Who is eligible?

Adoptive leave is available to:

  • An employed adopting mother
  • A sole male adopter
  • An employed adopting father – where the adopting mother has died

An employee with an adopted child is entitled to ten consecutive weeks of adoptive leave from the date of placement. An employee must give notice to the employer, at least four weeks prior to the expected date of placement. Adoptive leave is paid by the Department of Social and Family Affairs.

Additional adoptive leave

An employee who has taken adoptive leave, is also entitled to four weeks additional adoptive leave which is unpaid. An employee must notify the employer at least four weeks before the end of the ten weeks adoptive leave if she/he wishes to take additional leave. In the case of ‘foreign’ adoptions, some or all of the four weeks additional adoptive leave may be taken immediately before the placement date.

Employment rights

All employment rights, other than remuneration, are preserved during the ten weeks adoptive leave. Employment rights during the four weeks additional adoptive leave will be frozen i.e. the period of employment before the leave will be regarded as continuous with the period of employment following the adoptive leave. The employee has a right to return to work after a period of adoptive leave or additional adoptive leave. An employee must give four weeks written notification to the employer before the end of adoptive leave or additional adoptive leave.


A dispute concerning an employee’s entitlement, under the Adoptive Leave Act, 1995, may be referred within six months, to a Rights Commissioner. Disputes concerning dismissal are dealt with under the Unfair Dismissals Act, 1977 and the Unfair Dismissals (Amendment) Act, 1993. Either party may appeal the decision of a Rights Commissioner within four weeks of the date of the decision of the Rights Commissioner. The Rights Commissioner and/or the Employment Appeals Tribunal may make an award of compensation, not exceeding twenty weeks remuneration.


Additional information is available from your trade union and from: 

Irish Congress of Trade Unions
31 Parnell Square, 
Dublin 1. 

Employment Equality Authority
36 Upper Mount Street, 
Dublin 2. 

If you have any enquiries concerning adoptive leave payment, please contact the Department of Social and Family Affairs at: 

Social Welfare Services Office, 
Government Buildings, 
Ballinalea Road, 

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Force majeure

An employee is entitled to leave with pay from his/her employment for urgent family reasons, owing to the injury or illness of a family member where the immediate presence of the employee is indispensable.

A family member can be any of the following:

  • A child/adopted child of an employee
  • A spouse/or person with whom the employee is living as husband or wife
  • A person to whom the employee is in loco parentis
  • A brother/sister
  • A parent/grandparent

Force majeure leave will consist of:

  • Three days in any period of twelve months or
  • Five days in any thirty six month period

An employee shall retain all his/her employment rights.

An employee must, as soon as is reasonably practicable after his/her return to work, notify the employer he/she has taken force majeure Leave.

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Parental leave

The entitlement to parental leave will apply only in respect of a child born on or after 3rd December 1993 or in the case of an adopted child, where the adoption order was made on or after that date. It must end not later than the day on which the child concerned reaches the age eight years. It entitles a parent to unpaid leave to enable him/her to take care of his/her child. Parental leave is unpaid leave. The maximum period of parental leave is fourteen working weeks per parent per child. Applications must be made in writing to the human resources department six weeks prior to the date of commencement. Parental leave is used only to take care of the child concerned. Both parents are entitled to parental leave, but the leave is nontransferable between the parents. It can be taken as a block or, with agreement, broken down into weeks or days. Remuneration and superannuation benefits cease.

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Paternity leave

The scheme allows for the approval of 3 days special leave with pay to fathers on the birth or adoption of their child (or children in the case of a multiple birth). This leave may be taken at the time of the birth or up to four weeks after the birth. In the case of the adoption of a child (or children), the leave may be taken on or up to four weeks after the date of placement.

Career breaks

Permanent staff may apply for special leave without pay to take career breaks on completion of their probationary period. Career breaks are allowed for a period of not less than one year and not more than five years. Career breaks are allowed for further education, domestic responsibilities, starting a business or a stay abroad. It can not be given to take up another permanent post in the public service within the state. When returning to the council, staff are required to give advance written notice of their return at least three months before they are due to resume duty. Career breaks are fully reckonable for superannuation purposes in the case of pensionable and registered members of staff. Where a pensionable and registered member of staff is availing of a career break they have a right to reckon such service or to purchase such service on return to work.

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Work sharing

The purpose of the work sharing scheme is to provide a wider range of attendance patterns that will assist staff combine both work and personal responsibilities or choices. Attendance patterns under the work sharing scheme are as follows:

Attendance at work at least one day each week

  • Patterns include: Mornings only
  • Afternoons only
  • Split week i.e. two days/three days
  • Three day week
  • Four day week

Not required to attend work at least one day each week

  • Week on - week off

A person participating in the work sharing scheme may choose only one attendance option in a 12 month period. All staff with at least one year's satisfactory service in the local authority sector may apply to work share. The minimum period for which a person may opt to work share is twelve months.

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Christmas and New Year leave

The leave entitlement for Christmas is Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, St. Stephen’s Day, one privilege day and New Year’s Day.

Sick leave

All absences on sick leave, certified or uncertified, are to be notified to the head of section or human resources department immediately by telephone.

Uncertified sick leave

Uncertified sick leave is allowed in the following cases only:

  • Not more than two consecutive days at any one time
  • Not more than five days in any one year

Certified sick leave

A doctor’s certificate must be submitted to the head of section and forwarded to human resources department in the following cases:

  • After two consecutive days sick leave
  • Any day’s sick leave in excess of five in any one year

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Study leave and course fees

The council actively encourages staff to achieve their potential by participating in education programmes. Generous incentives are available to staff to pursue relevant further qualifications.

Study leave

Degree course and other third level courses, which last for three years or longer: Officers are allowed ten days study leave with pay for the entire period of the course, subject to a maximum limit of three days study leave with pay in each academic year.

For shorter third level courses: Officers are allowed five days study leave with pay for a two-year course, subject to a maximum of three days with pay in each academic year. A maximum of three days study leave with pay is allowed for a one-year course.

Course fees

Courses that are undertaken by staff and that are directly relevant to the work of the staff member receive 100% assistance towards course fees, together with leave to attend courses and take examinations. 50% of the cost towards travel and subsistence to a maximum of €711.05 per annum is also payable.

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Compassionate leave

Three days special leave with pay is allowed on the death of an immediate relative. “Immediate relative” means a father, mother, brother, sister, father-in-law, mother-in-law. On the death of a spouse the maximum number of days allowed can be increased to five. A maximum allowance of five days special leave with pay is allowed on the death of an employee’s child. If a staff member has to take charge of funeral arrangements or has lived in the same house as the deceased three days special leave with pay is allowed. Extra days are allowed if the immediate relative dies abroad and the person has to go abroad and take care of the funeral arrangements.

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Special leave

Staff are allowed special leave without pay not exceeding two months in special circumstances for urgent domestic affairs. Special leave without pay may be extended up to six months for the purpose of coping with family difficulties, arising from the death or serious illness of an immediate relative. Special leave without pay is allowed for the care during illness or old age of an immediate relative up to but not exceeding six months. Staff are allowed special leave with pay up to a maximum of six days in any one year to attend interviews or competitions for appointments to posts in the local authority service or the public service generally.

Page last reviewed: 21/01/09

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