With INMO director of industrial relations Phil Ní Sheaghdha
Query from member
I recently applied for parental leave, but my employer has refused this request and I have pointed out that I have an entitlement to take parental leave. What are my entitlements in respect of the granting of this leave?
Parental leave is a statutory entitlement based on the provisions of the Parental Leave Acts. There is a requirement on employees to advise their employer of their intention to take parental leave and also to request the manner in which that leave is sought.
Some employees seek to take a block of time (18 weeks or separate blocks of a minimum of six continuous weeks), others seek to have the time taken as a day a week or a number of hours per week. However, the decision as to how the period of parental leave should be taken has to be agreed with the employer. If the employer does not agree, then the matter may require some negotiation.
A confirmation document specifying the date of commencement of the leave, its duration and the manner in which it is to be taken has to be prepared and signed by both the employee and the employer, at least four weeks before the leave is due to commence. Once the confirmation document has been signed, the terms set out in it cover the agreement.
The employer has the right to postpone the commencement of parental leave if the confirmation document has not been signed. Leave can be postponed for up to six months but, prior to postponing it, your employer must consult with you.
Query from member
I have recently sought information in respect of my pension as I am due to retire shortly. The superannuation department has advised me that the nine days that I partook in the national nurses’ dispute are being deducted as part of my service record. I thought this had been negotiated and that we would not lose these dates for pension purposes. Can you please clarify this?
You are correct. The INMO argued that this time should be considered service and the matter was heard by the Labour Court in 2006 and the Court issued a recommendation on November 9, 2006, in respect of this matter. The Court recommended that any period of absence, without pay, due to the industrial action from October 19-27, 1999, would be reckonable for pension purposes.
The Labour Court recommended that the service would be reckonable subject to the payment of the appropriate superannuation contributions in respect of the days being reckoned.
Superannuation contributions would be calculated based on pensionable remuneration at the date of retirement. The only exception to this would be nurses and midwives who already exceeded the maximum reckonable service permitted under the superannuation scheme. The HSE issued a circular following this Labour Court recommendation in 2007. The circular number is 013-2007 and it sets out the terms on which this particular issue is to be dealt with.
This period, in accordance with the Labour Court recommendation, can now be considered as time worked and the superannuation that would have been due, had it been worked, is to be calculated at the rate of remuneration that applied for the nurse/midwife at that time.
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