| 17.9°C Belfast

Parents of newborns to be given additional three weeks’ leave

He confirmed it would apply to children born after November 1, 2019.

The Cabinet has approved a new measure that allows parents of babies born during the pandemic to take an additional three weeks’ parental leave.

Minister for Children Roderick O’Gorman confirmed the move following the Sinn Fein private members’ motion on maternity leave.

Mr O’Gorman said it is to recognise the “particular challenges” that mothers and parents have faced during the Covid-19 crisis.

He confirmed it would apply to children born after November 1, 2019.

It will see the current two weeks’ leave extended to five weeks, and the 245 euro a week payment will apply to both parents within the first two years of the baby’s life.

“It will allow that additional three weeks to be taken by the cohort of parents who had children during the Covid crisis. It will to any child born after 1 November 2019,” Mr O’Gorman added.

“We are acknowledging that maternity leave was difficult for parents and mothers during Covid, and the supports that are traditionally there, even the availability to engage with grandparents and friends, just wasn’t doable during that time.”

Public Expenditure Minister Michael McGrath said that Cabinet also discussed including the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) in the July stimulus package.

The plan is to be announced next Monday.

Mr McGrath said it will ensure there will not be an “overnight cliff-edge” end to the payment.

“A decision has been made to put the Pandemic Unemployment Payment on a discreet statutory basis,” he said.

“It has been a vital lifeline for many people and businesses and is currently anchored in the 2005 legislation.

“A distinct piece of legislation will be set up to ensure there is a proper legislative framework there for PUP.

“Work is at a very advanced stage in relation to the composition of that July jobs initiative. It needs to be ambitious and it needs to be to be a genuine effort to match the scale of the challenge right across the country. There will be an intense series of meetings held.

“It is important that there isn’t an overnight cliff-edge end to that payment, it has been a vital lifeline for hundreds of thousands of people.

“It is important that the payment would be put in a statutory footing to remove any doubt about the legislative basis for it.

“It will be part of an overall package announced next Monday.”

PA