Carer's leave and benefit

Carerís Leave and Carerís Benefit

What is Carerís Leave?

The Carerís Leave Act 2001 allows employees in Ireland to leave their employment temporarily in order to look after someone in need of full-time care. The leave is unpaid but you are entitled to have your job kept open for you for the duration of the leave. You may also be entitled to receive the Carerís Benefit; this will be assessed by the Department of Social and Family Affairs when you apply for Leave.

The person you will be caring for does not need to be a family member or spouse, they could be a friend, colleague etc. The person you propose to care for must be deemed to be in need of full-time care and attention by a deciding officer of the Department of Social and Family Affairs, based on information provided by the personís GP. This means that they must be in need of continuous supervision and frequent assistance throughout the day.

You can only apply for Carerís leave if you meet certain conditions, for example, you must have worked continuously for 12 months with your employer.

How much leave am I entitled to?

The maximum period of leave you are allowed to take is 104 weeks, with a minimum period of 13 weeks (before 24th March 2006, the maximum was 65 weeks).

This leave can be taken as a continuous block of 104 weeks, or as blocks of shorter periods; however, your employer may refuse (on reasonable grounds) to allow you to take a period of Carerís Leave which is less than 13 weeks in duration. When carerís leave is taken in a number of blocks, there must be a gap of at least six weeks between periods.

Will I be paid during Carerís Leave?

Carerís Leave is unpaid. However, you may work for up to 15 hours per week, earning a maximum of Ä290 per week while on Carerís Leave. You may also be eligible for Carerís Benefit.

What is Carerís Benefit?

Carerís Benefit is a payment made to insured persons in Ireland, who leave the workforce in order to look after a person in need of full-time care and attention. Carerís Benefit is a separate scheme from Carerís Allowance, which is a means-tested payment for carers on low income.

You must meet certain conditions, including certain PRSI contribution conditions, in order to be eligible for the Carerís Benefit.

Eligibility for Carerís Benefit does not affect your right to take Carerís Leave.

How much Carerís Benefit will I receive?

As from January 2006, the maximum weekly rates are Ä180.70 for caring for 1 person and Ä271.10 for caring for 2 people or more. You can also claim increases for qualified child(ren).

The payment is made weekly either as a direct payment into your bank account, or by a book of payable orders which can be cashed each week at a Post Office chosen by you.

Carers receiving the Carerís Benefit are also automatically entitled to a Respite Care Grant of Ä1,200 per year to pay for respite care when they need a holiday or break from the duties of caring. This is automatically paid in June of each year.

How do I apply for Carerís Leave and Benefit?

You must complete an application form for Carerís Benefit, both to apply for Carerís Leave and to assess your eligibility for Carerís Benefit. The GP of the person you propose to care for and your employer must complete parts of the application form. The completed form must be sent to the Carerís Benefit Section of the Department of Social and Family Affairs.

You must make a formal application for leave to your employer not less than six weeks before you propose to take the leave. In exceptional or emergency situations when this is not possible, you should give notice as soon as is reasonably possible.

Where can I get more information?

Contact the Carerís Benefit Section of the Department of Social and Family Affairs on Tel: (043) 45211 or (01) 8748444.

Reviewed: September 26, 2006

Start/Join a discussion on this condition