Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said he would give consideration to extending maternity leave by three months.
A group of TDs, led by People Before Profit’s Brid Smith, have backed a petition calling for the extension of maternity leave due to the difficulties being faced by new parents amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
It would apply to any woman whose leave is due to expire between the start of March and the end of September.
It has been signed by more than 25,000 people.
Ms Smith said the three-month extension would cost 134 million euro.
She called on the Taoiseach to commit to extending maternity leave as an emergency measure because of the difficulties faced by women returning to work.
She said: “You can’t put a monetary value on the contribution that mothers make to our society. New mothers need to be given this maternity leave extension. The stress and anxiety of returning to work during the Covid pandemic is something which the Government can alleviate.”
Maternity leave and benefit must be extended during #covid total cost of 134 mil euro - @LeoVaradkar told me he will give it strong consideration @pb4p Please email Taoiseach and encourage him to do the right thing— Brid Smith TD (@bridsmithTD) June 11, 2020
“At the end of the day what is needed is the political will from the Government to support these women by extending maternity leave. Any problems with legislation or the need for retrospective legislation can be overcome.”
Ms Smith presented the petition to Mr Varadkar in the Dail on Thursday.
In response, he said: “I will give it consideration, and I mean that.”
He said he will consider it over the next couple of days, but said he has concerns that legislation may be required and as there is no Government in place, this could present a difficulty.
He added that he can see the benefits of extending leave for parents who have had a baby over the last couple of months.