Ministers Flanagan, Doherty and Stanton publish

Parents Leave and Benefit Bill







7 October, 2019 


Working parents will soon be able to look forward to spending an extra two weeks leave with their new-born, or newly adopted children, thanks to a Bill published late on Friday evening by Minister for Justice and Equality Charlie Flanagan T.D., Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Regina Doherty T.D. and Minister of State with responsibility for Equality, Immigration and Integration, David Stanton, T.D.


The Bill will provide for 2 weeks paid parents leave for each parent of a child who is born, or adopted, from 1 November, 2019.

Announcing the publication of the Bill, Minister Flanagan estimated up to 60,000 people could benefit from the scheme in a full year.  Making the point that the Government is prioritising families, he said:


“Having a new baby is a magical time, but it can also be very challenging. We want to support parents and help give them more opportunities to spend time with their children. In both 2017 and 2018 almost 25,000 new fathers availed of the newly established 2 week paid Paternity Leave scheme, and I would hope all new parents would avail of this new scheme once it is established. The first year of a child’s life is one of the most important in terms of the child building a relationship and a bond with both parents.”


Minister Stanton highlighted the Government’s continued commitment to supporting working parents and promoting greater work life balance. He said:


 “This legislation provides for two weeks paid parents leave, and it is intended that this leave will increase over time. This Bill is a further demonstration of this Government’s ongoing commitment to ensuring new parents can enjoy a proper work-life balance in the initial few months of their child’s life.” 


Also speaking on the publication of the Bill, Minister Doherty said,


This two weeks paid parental leave is an important support for working parents in Ireland. The legislation that is currently underway to introduce the payment provides for paid parental leave for each parent of a child under one, who is an employee or self-employed.  This payment is in addition to existing maternity, paternity and adoptive leave entitlements. It will provide working parents with a further opportunity to spend more time with their new baby during its first year which is of particular importance. This Government is committed to extending the leave available to new parents over the coming years and making life better for all new and growing families.”


 The Parents Leave and Benefit Bill delivers on a Programme for Government commitment to increase paid parental leave in the first year of a child’s life. It is intended that this Bill will be brought before the Seanad in the coming weeks, with passage through both Houses expected before 1 November, 2019.



Notes for Editors 

The Parents Leave and Benefit Bill builds on a number of statutory entitlements to leave which parents are already entitled to.  These are as follows:  
Maternity Leave 
The Maternity Protection Acts 1994 and 2004 provide for a statutory minimum entitlement to maternity leave.  A pregnant employee is entitled to 26 weeks’ maternity leave (2 of which must be taken before the baby is born) as well as an entitlement to an additional 16 weeks' unpaid maternity leave. 

In 2017, the duration of maternity leave and associated maternity benefit has been extended to be paid in cases where a baby is born prematurely.  The extended period of benefit is equivalent to the duration between the actual date of birth of the premature baby and the date when the maternity leave was expected to commence (i.e. ordinarily two weeks before the expected date of birth).  These new measures were introduced under section 16 of the Social Welfare Act 2017, which was enacted and came into law on 23 December 2017.
Paternity Leave
The Government introduced two weeks of paternity leave with effect from 1 September 2016.  Fathers are entitled to paid paternity leave from employment or self-employment following the birth or adoption of a child. 
Section 6 of the Paternity Leave and Benefit Act 2016 provides for statutory paternity leave of 2 weeks. These provisions apply to births and adoptions on or after 1 September 2016, and may be taken at any time within the first 6 months following the birth or adoption placement.
Parental Leave
 Section 6 of the Parental Leave Act 1998 provides for 18 weeks unpaid parental leave for a child up to the age of eight, or 16 years of age in the case of a child with a serious illness or disability.  The Parental Leave (Amendment) Act 2019 expanded this entitlement by eight weeks, which comprises an increase of an additional four weeks from 1st September 2019 and a further four weeks from 1st September 2020. The Act also increased the age of the child for which parental leave is available from eight to 12 years. 
Adoptive Leave
Under the Adoptive Leave Act 1995, as amended by the Adoptive Leave Act 2005, an adoptive mother is entitled to avail of adoptive leave from employment, except in the case where a male is the sole adopter.
Since 1 March 2007, the adopting parent is entitled to 24 weeks' adoptive leave. A person adopting a child is also entitled to take an additional 16 weeks of unpaid adoptive leave after the 24 week paid leave ends.