In September 2016, fathers of children born in Ireland became eligible for the first time to take up to two weeks’ paternity leave and to receive Paternity Benefit from the Department of Social Protection. Statistics collated from the first few months of the scheme show, however, that just one in four fathers eligible for the scheme chose to avail of it. This is in stark contrast to the expectation that 60% of eligible fathers would avail of the scheme when it was first announced.
Just over 5,000 paternity benefit applications were awarded during the first three months of the scheme going live, with County Longford, Kerry, Roscommon, and Clare having the fewest applicants. A larger uptake, however, was seen in County Dublin, Cork and Kilkenny.
A further 7,500 paternity benefit claims were subsequently awarded in the first four months of 2017. Under the new scheme, eligible fathers are entitled to two weeks of paternity leave. The two-week leave can be taken at any point within 28 weeks of the birth or adoption of a child, but the two weeks must be taken together.
A social welfare benefit of €235 per week is paid for the two weeks. It is at an employer’s discretion if they wish to top up this payment to the full weekly wage normally earned by the employee. Despite the low uptake so far, it is hoped that the number of applicants will increase as the scheme enters its second year in September.
Current statistics also don’t reflect fathers who may be delaying their paternity leave, for example, fathers whose child was born on February 28 this year can take it at any time up to September 1, 2017.
Guidance on how employers should treat Paternity Benefit and when it should be entered in Thesaurus Payroll Manager can be found here: https://www.thesaurus.ie/docs/2017/paternity-benefit/taxation-of-paternity-benefit/
Related article: Equality for working Dads with new Paternity Leave