258. Deputy Gary Gannon asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if she has responded to a request to meet a group (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19540/20]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Helen McEntee): As the law now stands, a mother is entitled to paid maternity leave of up to 26 weeks, and up to a further 16 weeks of unpaid leave. Any amendment to the legislation governing the provision of maternity leave, which falls under my responsibility, would require primary legislation. The provision of maternity benefit is under the remit of the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection.
In recognition of the particular challenges that mothers and parents have faced during the Covid-19 pandemic, the Government is considering a proposal to advance the extension of Parent’s Leave and Benefit to five weeks for all parents of children born after 1 November 2019, to enable every eligible parent of young children to spend additional time with their child. The period in which Parent’s Leave can be taken will also be extended from one year to two years. This, and related costs, will be considered as part of the Budget 2021 process. The support is paid at a rate of €245 per week.
Parental leave is also available which entitles parents to take unpaid leave from work to spend time looking after their children. Parents can take up to 22 weeks of parental leave for each eligible child before their 12th birthday.
The Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS) was introduced under the Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (Covid-19) Act 2020, to attempt to minimise the negative impact on the labour market through an exceptional period beginning on 26 March and scheduled to run for an initial period of 12 weeks. On 3 June, the Government announced the TWSS would accommodate the salaries of parents returning from maternity or adoptive leave. This will be provided for by way of amendment in the Finance Bill 2020 process, and that in the meantime Revenue will implement the provision from 26 March, where applicable.
A number of requests for a meeting around this issue have been received in my office. These requests are currently being considered and an official from my Department will contact the individuals directly in due course.