Over the next number of weeks we are going to look at Working Time Protected Leave legislation in Ireland, this legislation is in place to protect employees and includes leave such as; Maternity Leave, Paternity Leave, Adoption Leave, Carer’s Leave, Parental Leave & Force Majeure Leave. Today we will start with Paternity Leave.
In last year’s budget, the Fine Gael-Labour coalition had agreed to legislate to allow for fathers/partners to take two weeks’ paid paternal leave. The legislation will allow fathers to take the leave at any stage within 26 weeks of the birth or placement of the child in adoption situations.
The new legislation is due to come into force in September this year and when it does it will mean that for the first time in history, the role of fathers in postnatal care will be formally recognized on our little island. From September, every employer in Ireland must offer new fathers/partners two weeks’ paternity leave following the birth of a child. The state will pay fathers €460 for the leave, which is in line with current maternity pay. However, as with the Maternity pay, employers are under no obligation to pay the father while they are out on Paternity Leave. Remember to update your company handbook to include a policy for the new Paternity Leave when it does come in.
Great though it is to finally have some leave in place for fathers, we still have a long way to go before reaching the dizzy heights of paternity leave Scandinavian-style, where the model is usually one of paid parental leave to be shared between both parents, with some non-transferable months. In Sweden for example, parents can take up to sixteen months of leave, paid up to 80% of salary (with a cap of €4,000 per month). Our closest neighbours in the UK allow 2 weeks paid Paternity Leave but have also introduced “Shared Parental Leave” of up to 52 weeks after the birth/placement of a child which can be shared between both parents. Ireland, generally comes bottom of the European table in terms of family leave, so Paternity Leave, even at just 2 weeks is very welcome.