Skip to main content

Carer’s leave

What it is

Carer’s leave allows employees to take temporary unpaid leave to enable them personally to provide full-time care and attention for a person who needs it.

Though carer’s leave is unpaid, you may be entitled to carer’s benefit from the Department of Social Protection. Further information on carer’s benefit and qualifying criteria is available on


You must have completed at least 12 months continuous service in the civil service to qualify for this type of leave.

You also need to have applied to the Department of Social Protection for a decision by a Deciding Officer under the Act that the person you intend to provide full-time care for meets the definition of ‘relevant person’.

If you are working while on carer’s leave, then the maximum amount of time you can work is two days. (Most employees with this arrangement work half days). This is subject to Local HR approval.


You can take a maximum of 104 weeks for every person you are caring for. During carer’s leave, annual leave and bank holidays are unaffected for the first 13 weeks. If the leave is due to last less than 13 weeks, you must seek approval from the head of the division. 13 weeks is the minimum statutory entitlement under theCarer’s Leave Act 2001.

As carer’s leave is unpaid, it does not count for pension purposes.

An officer on carer’s leave is deemed for all purposes (other than the right to remuneration and superannuation benefits) to be in employment. The absence will therefore count as service and will reckon for promotion.

Notice to give when applying

The suggested timeline for applying for carer’s leave is six weeks before the start date of the leave. Not adhering to this notice period leads to overpayments.

Sometimes, the need to take carer’s leave arises urgently. If this happens, you must give the right start date so your case is processed as soon as possible.

If the start date is less than six weeks away, the decision to grant your leave is at your Local HR Unit’s discretion.

How to apply

To submit an application, you can log into HR self-service. To attach supporting documents, to view progress on an existing case, or to submit a manual application form, you can log into the case management system. Please note: only officers without HR self-service access may submit manual forms.

  • Decide on a start date
  • Decide on the length of time you need to take
  • Get your manager’s approval
  • Decide if you intend to work while on carer’s leave
  • Fill out the eform applying for carer’s leave

In the text box, enter:

  • the name of the person you will be caring for
  • a request to work reduced hours (if this is your intention), specifying the days on which you would like to work (e.g. Monday AM, Tuesday full day etc.)
  • the length of time of the carer’s leave (particularly if it is less than 13 weeks as this is subject to head of division approval)
  • any other relevant information

If you are applying for Carer’s Benefit, you should advise NSSO so that we can complete the Employer’s section and forward this information to DSP in support of your application.

Please note: due to the information required on this part of the form it is not possible for the form to be completed and sent to DSP before the Carer’s Leave has commenced. If you require the employer details to be sent to DSP for your benefit application please email the Leave Management team to let us know that your salary has been revised for your Carer’s Leave and we can then forward the relevant information to DSP.

The process explained

You do not need to be approved for Carer’s Benefit to be entitled to carer’s leave. You can apply for this leave providing the person you are caring for meets the definition of a ‘relevant person’ as outlined in the Carer’s Leave Act.

Six weeks before the start date of the carer’s leave, the Officer completes an eform with the start date, the duration, details of whether they intend to work, and the name of the care recipient.

The Manager approves the eform

The Officer if applying for Carer’s Benefit completes a CARB1 form and notifies NSSO that the employers section is required to be completed

NSSO updates the Officer’s HR record and the officer’s pay to reflect the carer’s leave.

Once the start date has passed, NSSO completes the Employer’s Section – Part 4 – of the CARB 1 form and forwards it to the Department of Social Protection Carer’s Benefit Section

The Department of Social Protection Carer’s Benefit Section processes the application. This can take between 6 to 12 weeks* or longer.

Annual Leave and Carer’s Leave

For the first 13 weeks of your 104 weeks of carer’s leave, you are entitled to your full annual leave entitlement. After that, if you are working reduced hours while on carer’s leave, you will build up annual leave on a pro rata basis.

Bank Holidays while on carer’s leave

If there is a public holiday during the first 13 weeks of your 104 weeks of carer’s leave, you will get credit for it.

After the first 13 weeks, if you are working reduced hours while on carer’s leave you will still receive credit as explained below.

While working on carer’s leave if a public holiday falls on a day you are rostered to work, you are entitled to a day’s paid leave (just like a full-time employee).

If the public holiday falls on a day you are not due to work, then the credit you receive for this will be calculated on a pro rata basis.

Leave in lieu or payment in lieu for bank holidays are applied for and arranged locally. Please contact your line manager or Local HR for advice on how to apply.

Bereavement Leave while on carer’s leave

For the entitlement of bereavement leave, if you work while on carer’s leave you are considered as work-sharing. As such the granting of bereavement leave to work-sharers depends on whether or not you were scheduled to work for the period in question (paragraph 12.5, circular 31/2001). If you are not working while on carer’s leave, you are not entitled to bereavement leave.

Returning early from carer’s leave

If you intend to return early from carer’s leave, get in touch with so that we can process a case for you to be returned to full pay.

Maternity leave while on carer’s leave

You can cancel the carer’s leave and go on maternity leave (on full pay).

Shorter Working Year (pro rata and unpaid) and carer’s leave

If you are working up to 2 days while on carer’s leave you are treated as a worksharer and eligible to apply for the Shorter Working Year Scheme, however if you are likely to change your working arrangements during the year you should apply for Shorter Working Year Unpaid.

Carer’s leave while on probation

As there is a requirement that a person must have given 12 months’ continuous service before being eligible for carer’s leave, new entrants to the Civil Service will not, in general, qualify for grant of carer’s leave while still on probation. You should contact your personnel unit for advice on this.

Staff who have been promoted and who are on probation in the higher grade are, however, eligible to apply for carer’s leave. If this applies to you, your probationary period will be suspended during your absence on carer’s leave and will resume on your return to work.

PRSI credits while on carer’s leave

If you are in receipt of carer’s benefit from the Department of Social Protection, your social insurance benefits will be automatically preserved for the duration of your receipt of this benefit.

If, however, you qualify for carer’s leave but not carer’s benefit, then you will need, on your return to work, to complete an application form for carer’s leave credits. You should then forward it to your HR unit for completion of the employer’s part of the form. The completed form should be returned to the Department of Social Protection.

Emergency situations

In emergency circumstances, where it is not reasonably practicable to comply with the standard notice requirements, you can apply for carer’s leave as soon as is reasonably practicable.

Revoking an application

This should be done before the confirmation document has been signed. You must put this cancellation request in writing to the personnel officer in your local HR unit.

Postponing your carer’s leave application

Once the confirmation document has been signed, it can only be altered by agreement between your Local HR unit and yourself. If agreement is reached, the carer’s leave, or part of it, can be postponed, curtailed, or varied. The confirmation document will then be amended to reflect the new agreement.

If the person in care dies

In these circumstances, you should contact your Local HR unit for advice. The Carer’s Leave Act, 2001 provides that, in such circumstances, the carer’s leave will terminate on the earlier of:

  • the termination date of the carer’s leave as specified in the confirmation document
  • six weeks after the date of death of the care recipient

However, if you wish to return to work sooner than that date, you may apply to the personnel officer to do so.

If the person in care is hospitalised

You will continue to be regarded as providing full-time care and attention to the care recipient while s/he is undergoing medical treatment in a hospital or other institution for a period not longer than 13 weeks.

Carer’s Leave and Sick Leave

If you are working while on Carer’s Leave your sick leave will be calculated the same as it would be for a worksharing officer.

A person on full time Carer’s Leave will not be eligible to avail of sick leave during the period of Carer’s Leave.