Government to extend maternity, paternity leave by two weeks

Up to 60,000 parents could benefit from new leave paid at same rate as current benefit

Up to 60,000 parents could be entitled to the extra leave. Photograph: iStock

Up to 60,000 parents could be entitled to the extra leave. Photograph: iStock

 

New legislation to provide two weeks’ extra paid leave for each parent in the first year of a child’s life has been jointly published by three Government Ministers.

Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan said up to 60,000 parents could be entitled to the measure, which will be paid at the same rate as existing maternity and paternity benefits.

The provision will apply to the parents of children born or adopted from November 1st this year and will be available to the self-employed as well as employees.

The Parental Leave and Benefit Bill will first go through the Seanad and then the Dáil and is expected to be passed by November 1st.

Mr Flanagan said that almost 25,000 fathers have benefited annually from the paternity leave scheme, which came into effect in 2017. He hoped all new parents would avail of the scheme once it is established.

“The first year of a child’s life is one of the most important in terms of the child building a relationship and a bond with both parents,” he said

Minister for Employment Affairs Regina Doherty stressed that the benefit would be in addition to existing maternity, paternity and adoptive leave entitlements. “It will provide working parents with a further opportunity to spend more time with their new baby during its first year, which is of particular importance.”

Minister of State for Equality David Stanton said it was intended that the two weeks’ leave would increase over time and he said the legislation demonstrated the Government’s commitment “to ensuring new parents can enjoy a proper work-life balance in the initial few months of their child’s life”.

Earlier this year legislation was passed to increase the entitlement of unpaid parental leave from 18 weeks to 22 weeks and a further two weeks from September 1st next year. The Parental Leave Act also increased the age of the child for which the leave is available from eight to 12 years.