The Employment Relations Authority has decided that a mother is in fact entitled to parental leave, after her application was initially denied.

The mother applied for parental leave after giving birth. The application was rejected on the basis that she was not eligible for parental leave because she did not apply for leave before returning to work after her child’s birth.

The mother returned to work shortly after giving birth, whilst the father looked after the child at home.

When appealing to the Authority, she argued that she was misled by the website, which had informed her that she was eligible through an online eligibility tool. She also argued that she was eligible when she made the claim as she was a COVID-19 Response Worker, who was permitted to temporarily return to work without losing entitlements to leave and pay.

The Authority decided that the fact that the mother was misled by the online eligibility tool was not sufficient to prove that she was entitled to parental leave, as she still failed to apply in time.

The Authority also dismissed the employees’ second argument, as the woman did not meet the criteria of a COVID-19 response worker.

The Authority did decide that whilst not technically eligible, it would be unfair if the woman was not granted parental leave, as the failure on the part of the mother was a failure of form, not of substance. Had the woman applied prior to returning to work, both her and her husband would both have been eligible. The Authority decided that a failure to grant the leave would therefore be unjust.

If there is confusion around employee entitlements, it is wise to seek advice from a professional with experience in the area.


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