Both the POLH-1 (pol eta) translesion synthesis (TLS) DNA polymerase and the GEI-17 SUMO E3 ligase are essential for the efficient replication of damaged chromosomes in Caenorhabditis elegans embryos. Here we study how POLH-1 is regulated during a DNA-damage response in these embryos. We report that DNA damage triggers the degradation of POLH-1 and that degradation is mediated by the Cul4-Ddb1-Cdt2 (CRL4-Cdt2) pathway that has previously been shown to degrade the replication factor Cdt1 during S phase. We also show that GEI-17 protects POLH-1 from CRL4-Cdt2-mediated destruction until after it has performed its function in TLS, and this is likely via SUMOylation of POLH-1. These studies reveal that POLH-1 undergoes DNA-damage-induced proteolysis and that GEI-17 regulates the timing of this proteolysis. Implications for how this system may control the removal of POLH-1 from replication forks after TLS are discussed.