The new Family Leave Bill, which will extend paid parent’s leave from two to five weeks, is set to come into effect from next month. The period in which the leave can be taken will also increase from one year to two.
Each parent of a child born on or before 1st November 2019 is currently eligible to take two weeks’ parent’s leave in the child’s first year. The leave, which attracts a parent’s benefit of €245 a week for workers with sufficient PRSI contributions, is different from unpaid parental leave.
Parent’s leave is eventually to be extended to nine weeks. This is the minimum requirement under an EU directive, which is due to be fully transposed into Irish law by August 2022.
The Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) has expressed concern at the low take-up of both paternity leave and parents’ leave. It says this is mainly because paternity leave is unpaid, and because most employers don’t top up the relatively low €245 weekly parents’ leave payment
From April, parents’ leave can be taken anytime in the two years after the child’s birth, effective from November 2019. In the case of adopted children, it is two years from date of placement.
Although the changes are seen as progress, Ireland still falls far short of its EU counterparts in the provision of paid leave for both mothers and fathers. Ireland ranks bottom among OECD countries when comparing guaranteed paid leave available to mothers at the full-rate equivalent.
Fórsa official Billy Hannigan welcomed the progress on the matter, but noted the disparity between Ireland and other European countries.
“This bill is a step in the right direction, but improvements are still needed to catch up with our EU counterparts. The EU directive is dictating the pace on the expansion of parental leave for parents in Ireland and we need to build on this further. There’s a lot done but more to do,” he said.
The new bill will also allow adoptive couples to choose which parent avails of the current 24 weeks’ adoptive leave with benefit. This removes a glitch which had seen married male same-sex couples unable to avail of adoptive leave. The parent who does not avail of adoptive leave is entitled to take paternity leave.
|Leave||Who gets it?||How long?||Is it paid?|
|Maternity leave||Female employees||26 weeks and up to 16 unpaid weeks||Yes, Maternity Benefit is paid for 26 weeks|
|Adoptive leave||Adoptive mothers, Men adopting alone||24 weeks and up to 16 unpaid weeks||Yes, Adoptive Benefit is paid for 24 weeks|
|Paternity leave||New parents of children under 6 months of age (but not the mother of the child)||2 weeks||Yes, Paternity Benefit is paid for 2 weeks|
|Parental leave||Parents and guardians of children under 12||26 weeks||No, it’s unpaid|
|Parent’s leave||Parents of children under 1 year of age (or in first year of adoption) – this will increase to 2 years from April 2021||2 weeks (5 weeks from April 2021)||Yes, Parent’s Benefit is paid for 2 weeks|
SOURCE: Citizens Information.