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Force Majeure Leave – What It Is and Is Not
Force Majeure leave is often misunderstood by both employers and employees alike. The Parental Leave Act 1998, as amended by the Parental Leave (Amendment) Act 2006 provides an employee with a legal right to leave work in times of family crisis and this is known as Force Majeure leave. This leave is subject to a number of qualifications.
Force Majeure leave may be taken:-
- For urgent family reasons the immediate presence of the employee is indispensable
- Following an injury to, or illness a close family member.
The Acts define a close family member as:-
- A child or adopted child of the employee;
- The spouse of an employee, or a person with whom the employee is living as husband or wife;
- A person to whom the employee is in local parentis;
- A brother or sister of an employee;
- A parent or grandparent of the employee
The Parental Leave (Amendment) Act 2006 extends the Force Majeure provisions to now include persons in a relationship of domestic dependency and this provision includes same sex partners. The maximum Force Majeure Leave that an employee may take is three days in a twelve-month period or five days in a thirty-six month period. The death of a close family member does not entitle an employee to Force Majeure Leave, which is usually addressed by an employee’s contract of employment, custom and practice or an employer may use their discretion in facilitating an employee’s leave where there has been a family bereavement.
Force Majeure Leave is paid leave and therefore cannot be treated as any part of other leave, i.e. sick leave, maternity leave, annual leave, etc. An employee retains all employment rights and contractual entitles during Force Majeure Leave. Absence for part of a day constitutes one day of Force Majeure Leave.
Employers are obliged to maintain records of all Force Majuere Leave taken by employees.