Minister to seek extension of paid parental leave to five weeks

Roderic O’Gorman expected to receive approval to increase leave to five weeks

Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman will receive Cabinet approval to draft the legislation. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman will receive Cabinet approval to draft the legislation. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill


Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman will on Tuesday bring a memo to Cabinet to extend paid parental leave from two weeks to five weeks.

Mr O’Gorman is also expected to receive Cabinet approval to extend the time the leave can be taken from just the first year to the first two years of child’s life. The Minister will receive Cabinet approval to draft the legislation.

The legislation is set to be introduced in January. The paid benefit is with the Department of Social Protection, which needs until April to update IT systems to reflect the change.

Mr O’Gorman is understood to be examining whether the extended leave can be introduced, with people paid in arrears when the systems are changed.

The Cabinet is also set to approve plans for a memorandum of understanding concerning the common travel area between the UK and Ireland, and how it interacts with healthcare arrangements. The plan, being brought by Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly, will ensure that people are still able to continue getting planned medical procedures within the common travel area after Brexit.

The agenda is expected to be dominated by Brexit and plans to establish a sequence in which different cohorts of the population will be inoculated against Covid-19.

The immunisation plan is set to outline more than a dozen categories for sequencing the rollout of the vaccine, which will relate to a variety of criteria, including age, profession and vulnerability to underlying conditions.

Government sources said the list will be a “living document” and subject to change, depending on the properties and effectiveness of different vaccines, as well as the order in which they are rolled out.

Communications strategy

The Cabinet is also set to discuss other aspects of the plan, including the communications strategy, which is seen as key to securing the high levels of vaccine uptake that public health chiefs say is important to ensure its effectiveness.

Ministers will also discuss orders setting judicial remuneration and other matters related to public pay, being brought by Minister for Public Expenditure Michael McGrath.

Minister for Further and Higher Education Simon Harris will bring forward plans to implement a commitment in the programme for government to review the Susi scheme under which grants for third-level students are assessed and administered.

Minister for Media Catherine Martin will bring forward the final scheme of the online safety and media regulation bill, which will seek to create a regulatory framework to deal with the spread and amplification of harmful online content.

The bill is also set to bring legislation up to date with the EU audiovisual media services directive.

The draft scheme of the bill outlined online safety codes on how online video sharing services deal with harmful content, and will seek to establish an online safety commissioner. The online safety commissioner will be part of a new media commission which will replace the broadcasting authority of Ireland.