Ministers Flanagan and Stanton announce the phased introduction of 8 weeks additional Parental Leave

 

 

8 May 2019

 

The Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan TD, and his colleague, the Minister of State with responsibility for Equality, Immigration and Integration, David Stanton TD, are pleased to announce the phased introduction of 8 weeks additional parental leave following the passing of Government amendments to the Parental Leave (Amendment) Bill 2017 in the Seanad this evening.

 

This is a Private Members Bill introduced by Deputy Roisin Shortall and Deputy Catherine Murphy, which seeks to amend the Parental Leave Act 1998 in order to extend the period of unpaid parental leave from 18 to 26 weeks and to allow any parent who has already availed of their current entitlement of 18 weeks to receive a further eight weeks of parental leave.

 

Announcing the measure, Minister Flanagan said:

 

My Government colleagues and I have always been supportive of the objectives of this Private Members Bill. Last week, Cabinet agreed to support the phased implementation of the extended unpaid parental leave over a two-year period, beginning with the introduction of four weeks in September 2019 and an additional four weeks from September 2020.  This will allow employers time to ensure the implementation of the new legislative provisions can be as smooth as possible. 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.” 

 

Speaking after Report and Final Stages of the Bill were taken in the Seanad this evening, Minister Stanton highlighted the range of supports provided by Government for working parents and families:

 

This Government and its predecessor, have consistently supported parental leave and supports for working parents and families. In 2013, parental leave was extended from 14 to 18 weeks and in 2017, the Government extended maternity leave and maternity benefit in cases of premature births. I was pleased to introduce paid paternity leave for fathers on the birth of their child for the first time in 2016. Over 51,000 fathers have applied for the scheme since its introduction.  We have also recently announced the introduction of a new paid parental leave scheme, which is expected to commence from 1 November this year. This new scheme will initially provide for two weeks of paid, non-transferable leave per parent to spend with their new babies during their first year, rising to seven weeks by 2021.

 

The passing of the Bill in the Seanad today, in tandem with the Government’s amendments on the phased introduction of the 8 weeks additional unpaid parental leave is a further demonstration of our ongoing commitment to family supports. I would like to express my appreciation in particular to Deputy Shortall for her constructive engagement with my officials and me, allowing us to support the progression of this Bill.

 

The Bill will now be returned to Dáil Éireann for final approval before being presented to the President for signature and enactment. This 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.

 

ENDS

 

 

Note for Editors

 

·         The Parental Leave (Amendment) Bill 2017 is a Private Members’ Bill that seeks to amend the Parental Leave Act 1998 in order to extend the period of unpaid parental leave from 18 to 26 weeks and to allow any parent who has already availed of their current entitlement of 18 weeks to receive a further eight weeks of parental leave.

 

·         The Government last week (1 May 2019) agreed to support the phased implementation of the extended unpaid parental leave over a two-year period, beginning with the introduction of four weeks in September 2019 and an additional four weeks from September 2020.  This will allow employers time to plan to ensure the implementation of the new legislative provisions can be as smooth as possible. The Government amendment was passed at Report Stage today (8 May) in the Seanad).

 

·       As part of Budget 2019, Government announced the introduction of a new paid parental leave scheme, which is expected to commence from 1 November this year.  The General Scheme of the Parental Leave and Benefit Bill was published on 23 April.  This new scheme will initially provide for two weeks of paid, non-transferable leave per parent to spend with their new babies during their first year.  Ultimately, parents will be able to benefit from seven weeks leave each under the scheme as it develops incrementally over the next three years. Up to 60,000 parents a year are expected to benefit under the scheme.  These supports are in addition to maternity and paternity leave.  This Government was the first to introduce paid paternity leave for fathers on the birth of their child.  Over 51,000 fathers have applied to the scheme since its introduction.