The Work Life Balance and Miscellaneous Provisions Act 2023 was signed into law by President Michael D Higgins on 4 April 2023 and in late June, Minister O’Gorman announced the commencement date of July 3rd, 2023, for the provisions relating to medical care leave and time off for breastfeeding.

New Provision on Breastfeeding Breaks

As part of the legislation, the entitlement to breastfeeding breaks will be extended from the previous period of 26 weeks – a time which coincides with maternity leave – to 104 weeks where the Employee is breastfeeding. Other elements of the breastfeeding entitlement that remain in place include:

  • Employers must provide appropriate facilities in the workplace to enable a breastfeeding Employee upon their return to work.
  • The Employee may take paid time off for the purpose of breastfeeding in their place of work for one hour each working day. The daily paid time off can be made up of one 60-minute break or several shorter breaks totalling 60 minutes, as agreed upon by the Employer and Employee.
  • Part-time Employees are also entitled to breastfeeding breaks or a reduction in their working hours on a pro-rated basis for the purposes of breastfeeding.
  • Employers have the right to require proof of the date of birth of the Employee’s child.
  • Employees who breastfeed must notify their Employer in writing of their desire to use their right to take time off or have their working hours shortened for breastfeeding purposes at least 4 weeks before the proposed return to work.

Based on the commencement of the extension of time for breastfeeding purposes Employers must ensure they have adequately updated their maternity leave policy and communicated the changes to their Employees.

New Provision on Unpaid Leave for Medical Care Purposes

In addition to the above, eligible Employees will be entitled to a new right to unpaid leave for medical purposes.

For the purposes of the legislation, a person shall be considered to be in need of significant care or support for a serious medical reason where, owing to the person’s disability, injury or illness, he or she requires such care or support that includes the presence of the Employee at the place where the person is.

Employees are now entitled to unpaid leave for up to 5 days in any period of 12 consecutive months for the purpose of providing personal care or support to persons specified in the Act. Absence by an Employee for part of a day is counted as one day of leave for medical care purposes. Under the legislation, an Employee is entitled to leave for medical care purposes without pay, for the purposes of providing personal care or support to a person who:

  • a person of whom the Employee is the relevant parent
  • the spouse or civil partner of the Employee
  • the cohabitant of the Employee
  • a parent or grandparent of the Employee
  • a brother or sister of the Employee
  • a person who resides in the same household as the Employee

and is in need of significant care or support for a serious medical reason.

The Employee must notify their Employer as soon as practically possible and produce signed written confirmation to their Employer specifying the date the leave began or will begin its duration, and a statement of fact entitling the Employee to take leave for medical care purposes.

Employers have the right to request evidence regarding an Employee’s relationship with the person for whom they are taking leave for medical care purposes, the nature of the care or support required, and evidence relating to the person’s need, such as a medical certificate.

With the introduction of this new entitlement Employers must ensure they have developed a policy that aligns to the legislation, prepared the prescribed form that will be utilised for applications of this type of leave and communicated the changes to all Employees.


New Leave Types and Extensions under the Work Life Balance Miscellaneous Provisions Act 2023
Leave Who can avail of it Length & Paid/ Unpaid
Domestic Violence Leave Any Employee affected by domestic violence 5 days – Yes,
Benefit will be paid (rate TBC)
Medical Care Leave Any Employee providing personal care or support to certain persons that require significant care for serious medical reasons. 5 days – unpaid
Flexible Working Conditions All Employees after 6 months of employment caring for children under 12 (or 16 if the child has a disability or long-term illness) Terms of reduced/adjusted hours to be agreed per Company
Extended Right to Maternity Leave Pregnant transgender male with a gender recognition certificate 26 weeks – Yes,
Maternity Benefit paid
Extended Period of Leave for Breastfeeding Employees that are Breastfeeding Extended to 104 weeks from 26 weeks – Yes
Employee entitled to 1 hour per day paid leave


We will keep you informed of updates on the timeline of enactment of the remaining provisions of the Act. Our best advice right now is to ensure you are familiar with the upcoming changes and that Organisations review their existing policies and procedures and prepare drafts in order to be ready for the new entitlements.


If you need support preparing for these upcoming changes, please do contact our experts in Adare Human Resource Management on 01 561 3594 / 061 363 805 or email