Eight additional weeks of parental leave to be phased in
Eight additional weeks of parental leave will be introduced on a phased basis after the Seanad approved Government amendments to the Parental Leave (Amendment) Bill 2017.
The private member’s bill, introduced by Social Democrats TDs Roisin Shortall and Catherine Murphy, seeks to amend the Parental Leave Act 1998 to extend the period of unpaid parental leave from 18 to 26 weeks, and allow any parent who has already availed of their current entitlement of 18 weeks to receive a further eight weeks of parental leave.
After amendment, the bill will allow for the introduction of an extra four weeks’ parental leave from this September and an additional four weeks from September 2020. It also increases the age of the child for which parental leave is available from 8 to 12 years.
Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan said the phased introduction “will allow employers time to ensure the implementation of the new legislative provisions can be as smooth as possible”.
He added: “I am pleased that Senators have supported this amendment and I congratulate my colleague, Minister Stanton, and Deputy Shortall on their collaborative efforts to enable the bill to pass with Government support.”
The Parental Leave (Amendment) Bill 2017 will now be returned to the Dáil for final approval before being presented to the president for signature and enactment.
The bill represents the latest update to parents’ employment rights, following an increase in parental leave from 14 weeks to 18 weeks in 2013.
Maternity leave and maternity benefit in cases of premature births was extended in 2017, and paid paternity leave for fathers on the birth of their child was introduced for the first time in 2016.
A new paid parental leave scheme, which will provide for two weeks of paid, non-transferable leave per parent to spend with their new babies during their first year, will commence from November. The two-week period will rise to seven weeks by 2021.