Parents will have access to two weeks leave each – expected to rise to seven weeks each over the next three years

Brigid Geoghegan
Brigid Geoghegan • 27 May 2019

Parents will have access to two weeks leave each – expected to rise to seven weeks each over the next three years

Legislation will also enable male same-sex couples to receive adoptive leave and benefit

The Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Regina Doherty TD, the Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan TD and the Minister of State with responsibility for Equality, Immigration and Integration, David Stanton TD, announced that from this November all new parents in employment or self-employment will be able to avail of a new Parental Leave scheme offering two weeks leave and benefit to spend with their new babies during their first year. Ultimately, parents will be able to benefit from seven weeks leave each under the scheme as it develops incrementally over the next three years.

The Minister for Justice and Equality has secured the approval of Government for the priority drafting of the necessary legislation to introduce the leave entitlement. A General Scheme of the Bill is being published today. Arrangements are currently underway in the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection to ensure the necessary legislation is in place for the benefit and that the administrative and technical solutions are in place in advance of November for the operation of this scheme. It is estimated that up to 60,000 parents could benefit from the scheme in a full year.

Speaking on the importance of the scheme, Minister Doherty said:

“Parents, children and society in general will all benefit from the introduction of this scheme. Firstly, in that formative first year of life, children now have the opportunity to spend more time with both parents. Secondly, on top of the recently introduced Paternity Benefit, this extends the leave benefits available to fathers.

“Crucially this new benefit is non-transferable and is available on a ‘use it or lose it’ basis. This, I hope, will help to incentivise fathers to take more time off work to care for their children than has been the case up to now. The evidence shows that when fathers take a more significant and meaningful share in the parenting of their children the individual family benefits - and so does wider society, as by encouraging more fathers to take time off, we are in a position to challenge the existing culture regarding work and gender.”

Welcoming the scheme as a practical support for working parents, Minister Flanagan said:

“This is an important support for working parents in Ireland. The General Scheme of the Bill, which I am publishing today, provides for paid parental leave for each parent of a child under one, whether employed or self-employed. The leave will initially be set at two weeks, increasing on a phased basis over the next three years. This is in addition to existing maternity, paternity and adoptive leave entitlements. It will provide working parents with further opportunity to spend more time with their baby in its crucial first year of development.

With the introduction of this Bill, we are delivering on our commitment to increase paid parental leave in the first year of a child’s life. This is a practical measure to benefit parents and children. Helping working parents to have more flexibility and greater choice in how they balance their professional and family lives has positive benefits for families and for society as a whole.”

Under the scheme, both parents will have access to two weeks each (non-transferrable) benefit for babies born from this November, which will be paid at the same rate as Maternity Benefit and Paternity Benefit - €245 per week. It is intended to incrementally increase this to up to seven weeks parental leave over the next three years in line with Government announcement for Budget 2019.

Minister Stanton highlighted another important feature of the Bill:

“The Bill also proposes to take the final steps needed to enable male same-sex couples to receive adoptive leave and benefit. This is further progress towards ensuring equality for all families.

I look forward to introducing the legislation into the Houses of the Oireachtas, once drafted, and hope that colleagues on all sides of the Houses will work with me in ensuring that we can implement this important legislation at the earliest possible time.”

A PDF of the General Scheme is available here: www.justice.ie/en/JELR/General_Scheme_of_the_Parental_Leave_and_Benefit…