1011. Deputy Claire Kerrane asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if she will extend parent’s leave to 9 weeks as committed to in section 5, Part 8 of the Parent’s Leave and Benefit Act 2019 with immediate effect to assist mothers that are due to return to work but have no childcare available to them; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [20069/20]


Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Helen McEntee): The Parent’s Leave and Benefit Bill 2019 provides for two weeks of parent’s leave and benefit for all new parents in employment or self-employment in respect of children born or placed for adoption on or after 1 November 2019. This is to facilitate parents in spending more time with their children in their critical first year of life. The Government is currently 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 Government proposal would mean that eligible parents of children born during the pandemic crisis will get an extra three weeks of Parent’s Leave to offset the impact of having a child during the strict lockdown measures. 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.