192. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his views on allowing paternity leave to be taken within the first year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42678/17]


Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality (Deputy David Stanton): As the Deputy will be aware, the Paternity Leave and Benefit Act 2016 creates a statutory entitlement to two weeks' paternity leave and benefit, which can be taken at any point within 26 weeks of the date of the baby's birth (or in the case of adoption, within 26 weeks of the day of placement).
Parents want choice and flexibility, and the provisions contained in the Paternity Leave and Benefit Act give them a considerable degree of flexibility by allowing to choose when they take the time off to care for their child, within a six month time frame.
The Deputy will also be aware of the commitment in the Programme for a Partnership Government to increase, over the course of the next five years, paid statutory leave afforded to parents during the first year of a child’s life. My intention is to publish my proposals in that regard in due course for inclusion in the Family Leave Bill. The Bill will also review all existing family leave legislation such as parental leave, carer's leave, maternity leave, and adoptive leave and consolidate this legislation into one Act.