Key Employment Developments and HR Priorities for 2024

Key Employment Developments and HR Priorities for 2024

Employment law and regulation in Ireland are changing at an ever-increasing rate. The number and scope of changes presents a compliance difficulty for employers. At Reddy Charlton LLP we are consistently called upon to assist our clients to navigate the altering landscape. This article gives an insight into some of the key issues and changes companies will be called upon to consider as we move through 2024.

Increase in Sick Leave Entitlements

The duration of paid sick leave was extended from three days to five days as of 1 January 2024. It is important to note that all employees, regardless of their employment status (full-time or part-time), are now entitled to receive up to five days paid sick leave each year. However, the rate of sick pay may vary depending on whether they work full-time or part-time, and is currently capped at a maximum of €110 per day. Any unused sick leave expires at the end of each calendar year.


Pension Auto-Enrolment

The new auto-enrolment system is scheduled for roll out by the end of 2024. According to the proposed plan, employees aged between 23 and 60 who do not have a pension scheme and earn more than €20,000 per year would be automatically enrolled into a pension scheme. It is anticipated that employees will have discretion not to participate if they wish.

The scheme is designed in such a way that for every €3 contributed by the employee, the employer will also contribute €3, and the State will top up this amount by €1. Consequently, a total of €7 could potentially be deposited into the employee’s account for every €3 contributed.

Although the legislation underpinning the scheme has yet to be drafted, it is still on track for the second half of 2024, with a gradual phased-in implementation over the next decade.

Employers are advised to pay close attention to the legislation underpinning the scheme, which is currently at drafting stage. It is anticipated that there will be a gradual phased implementation over the next decade.


Probationary Periods

Many employers continue to face the ongoing challenge of complying with the Transparent and Predictable Working Conditions Regulations, 2022. In accordance with the current regulations, probation periods generally cannot exceed six months.

However, under exceptional circumstances, an employee’s probation period may be extended for up to an additional six months, for a total of up to twelve months. An extended probation period may be granted when it is deemed to be in the employee’s best interest, or if the employee has been on extended leave, such as sick leave, during their probation. Additionally, it may be extended in certain cases where the nature of the work justifies it, such as in public service employment.

Enhanced Parent’s Leave

Parent’s Leave (as opposed to Parental Leave) will be extended by two weeks to a total of nine weeks, as outlined in Budget 2024. This change is set to take effect in August 2024. “Relevant parents” are eligible for Parent’s Leave and are defined as one of the following:

  1. A parent of the child;
  2. A spouse, civil partner, or cohabitant of the parent of the child;
  3. A parent of a donor-conceived child as provided for under section 5 of the Children and Family Relationships Act, 2015;
  4. The adopting parent or parents of a child; or
  5. The spouse, civil partner, or spouse of the adopting parent of the child (if the parents have not adopted jointly)

Parents can choose to take Parent’s Leave consecutively or individually, and there is no minimum service requirement. However, a relevant parent must satisfy certain criteria to be eligible to avail of Parent’s Leave, in particular:

  1. The leave must be taken within 104 weeks (e. two years) of the birth of the child or, in the case of adoption, from the date the child was placed with the relevant parent; and
  2. A minimum of six weeks’ notice must be provided to the employer.

The Parent’s Leave and Benefit Act, 2019 (as amended) only provides for the minimum entitlement to Parent’s Leave but the relevant parent’s contract of employment may afford enhanced rights.

Parent’s Leave can be taken by the Relevant Employ as one continuous period of 9 weeks leave or separate periods of not less than 9 weeks (i.e. a maximum of nine separate weeks). Employees are treated as being in employment whilst availing of Parent’s Leave and entitled to return to their role upon expiry of their leave entitlements. Annual leave and public holidays will continue to accrue while the Relevant Parent is on Parent’s Leave. PRSI contributions should continue to be credit for the duration of the leave. Parent’s Leave cannot be shared between partners.

Employers are not obliged to pay a Relevant Parent taking Parent’s Leave unless it is provided for in their Contract of Employment. If the employee has sufficient PRSI contributions, they are entitled to receive a weekly Parent’s Benefit from the Department of Social Protection.

Employers can only refuse Parent’s Leave if their employee fails to meet the eligibility criteria. However, the leave can be postponed at the employer’s discretion for us to 12 weeks for the following reasons:

  1. Seasonal variation in the volume of work;
  2. The lack of an available replacement to undertake the employee’s work;
  3. The nature of the employee’s duties;
  4. The number of other employees also taking parent’s leave; or
  5. Any other relevant matters.


Table Summarising Leave Entitlements of Parents

This following table contains a helpful summary of the parties entitled to receive and duration of the various categories of leave available to parents:

Leave Who gets it? How long?
Maternity leave Female employees 26 weeks and up to 16 unpaid weeks
Adoptive leave One parent of the adoptive couple, or a parent adopting alone 24 weeks and up to 16 unpaid weeks
Paternity leave New parents of children under 6 months of age (usually the father or the partner of the mother, or in the case of adoption, the parent who is not taking adoptive leave) 2 weeks
Parental leave Parents and guardians of children under 12 26 weeks
Parent’s leave Parents of children under 2 years of age

Parents of adopted children in the first 2 years of the placement of the child

Currently 7 weeks but increasing to 9 weeks in August 2024


For more information on employment law issues, please contact our Employment & Regulatory team




Ciarán Maguire
Author: Ciarán Maguire