Government advised to increase parental leave
Advisory group proposes fathers share paid parental leave with mothers
The new strategy document says paid paternal leave should be extended to a full year, which Unic i ef has recommended as a minimum standard.
Fathers of newborn children should be allowed to share a year of paid parental leave with mothers, according to an expert group which is advising the Government on an early years strategy.
The document, to be published shortly by Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald, will form the foundation of a blueprint that will guide the development of children’s services over the next five years.
At present, mothers are entitled to six months paid maternity leave and a further 3½ months unpaid leave.
Latest research indicates that less well-off working mothers are much more likely to return to work after six months.
The new strategy document says paid leave should be extended to a full year, which Unicef has recommended as a minimum standard.
After a six-month period, families should be allowed to choose which parent takes the remainder of parental leave, as is the case in a growing number of European countries.
In addition, the strategy recommends the introduction of two weeks paid leave for fathers around the birth of a chid. At present, there is no legal entitlement to paternity leave.
There are also proposals to ensure public health nurses form part of the new Child and Family Agency, raise minimum qualification levels in preschools and increase investment in early care and education from 0.4 per cent of GDP to 0.7 per cent within the next five years.
The report was produced by an expert advisory committee appointed by Ms Fitzgerald.