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'Will my employer continue to pay me if I have to take time off work to look after my son?'

'Will my employer continue to pay me if I have to take time off work to look after my son?'

Q: My son is going to have surgery shortly on his leg which is going to leave him in a wheelchair with both legs in a cast and braced, so he won’t be able to move his legs. I’ll have to take time off from work to help him. My questions are, will I be allowed to and if I am, will my employer continue to pay me, and if they don’t, am I entitled to anything?

The answer to your first question is that yes under the Carers Leave Act 2001, you are entitled to take temporary leave from your place of work, if you need to provide full time care to someone, and given the attention your son is going to need, I expect your employer will approve your request.

When this type of situation arises, people are entitled to take carers leave for at least 13 weeks, and up to a maximum of 104 weeks.

But you must take at least 13 weeks off. If you ask to take less, your employer is entitled to say no. Another condition you must satisfy, is that you must have worked for your current employer, continuously for at least 12 months.

You must give your employer six weeks’ notice of your intention to take carers leave, and if approved they will prepare a document which outlines when the leave starts, duration of leave etc. and they must give you this 2 weeks before your leave starts.

And in case you’re wondering, they have to keep your job open for you while, you’re on leave.

Carers leave is unpaid, but you can still work as long as you don’t work more than 15 hours or earn greater than €332.50 per week.

And if you can’t work, and aren’t getting paid from your employer, you may be eligible for either a carers benefit if you have enough PRSI contributions (minimum of 156 from when you started work to when you’re making the claim along with having made 39 contributions paid in the tax year, or 26 paid last year and 26 this year) and the maximum weekly payment where you are caring for one person is €220 per week.

If you don’t qualify for a carers benefit, you may qualify for a carers allowance payment which is means tested and the maximum weekly payment from it is €219 if you’re caring for one person.

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