Belfast Telegraph

New parental leave being made available to 60,000 parents a year

Ministers announced that parents will have access to two weeks’ leave each from November.

The new measures are to encourage fathers to spend more time with their children (Dominic Lipinski/PA)
The new measures are to encourage fathers to spend more time with their children (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Up to 60,000 parents a year are to gain new paid parental leave and benefit from November.

The government has announced that parents will have access to two weeks’ leave each – expected to rise to seven weeks each over the next three years.

The legislation will also enable male same-sex couples to receive adoptive leave and benefit.

Under the scheme, both parents will have access to a non-transferable, two weeks each benefit for babies, which will be paid at the same rate as maternity benefit and paternity benefit – 245 euro (£211) per week.

This, I hope, will help to incentivise fathers to take more time off work to care for their children than has been the case up to now Regina Doherty

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Regina Doherty and Minister for Justice and Equality Charlie Flanagan announced on Tuesday that from this November all new parents in employment or self-employment will be able to avail of the new scheme, offering two weeks’ leave and benefit to spend with their new babies during their first year.

The government says that, ultimately, parents will be able to benefit from seven weeks’ leave each under the scheme as it develops incrementally over the next three years.

Minister Doherty said she hopes the scheme will encourage fathers to share parental responsibility with their partners.

“In that formative first year of life, children now have the opportunity to spend more time with both parents,” she said.

“Secondly, on top of the recently introduced paternity benefit, this extends the leave benefits available to fathers.

“Crucially, this new benefit is non-transferable and is available on a ‘use it or lose it’ basis.

“This, I hope, will help to incentivise fathers to take more time off work to care for their children than has been the case up to now.

“The evidence shows that when fathers take a more significant and meaningful share in the parenting of their children the individual family benefits – and so does wider society, as by encouraging more fathers to take time off we are in a position to challenge the existing culture regarding work and gender.”

Minister Flanagan said: “The leave will initially be set at two weeks, increasing on a phased basis over the next three years. This is in addition to existing maternity, paternity and adoptive leave entitlements.

“It will provide working parents with further opportunity to spend more time with their baby in its crucial first year of development.”

A draft General Scheme of the Bill was presented to Government on April 16 and approval was granted for the priority drafting of the Bill

The Bill also proposes to take the final steps needed to enable male same-sex couples to receive adoptive leave and benefit.

It also proposes to address a lacuna in the law which prevents a male same-sex couple from receiving adoptive leave and benefit.

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