Paternity leave mandatory for employers
Employers will have no choice but to give fathers two weeks' leave from work under the Government's new plans to tackle the childcare crisis.
Finance Minister Michael Noonan announced the introduction of paternity leave in the Budget, which will be available from September next year.
The widely welcomed move will see, for the first time, fathers take paid leave from work after the birth of their child.
Fathers will be entitled to €460 paid paternity leave -which can be taken within 28 weeks of the birth of a child.
Social Protection Minister and Tánaiste Joan Burton has secured €5m in funding to introduce the scheme this year.
It is estimated a full year of the scheme will cost around €20m based on Central Statistics Office (CSO) figures.
Men are not entitled to any paid leave, but some employers give fathers time off work. This can be either paid or unpaid, and this is entirely at the discretion of the employer.
On Tuesday, Ms Burton said the entitlement would be based on the same PRSI contributions as apply to mothers getting maternity benefit.
"I am particularly pleased to announce the introduction of a Paternity Benefit scheme from next year," she said.
"This is one of the measures which I am announcing in order to support families in the workplace and, in particular, to recognise the important role of fathers in bringing up their children."
Legislation will have to pass through the Dáil before the legal entitlement for two weeks paid leave is introduced.
The two weeks are not being introduced until later next year due to a number of logistical issues, including setting up a new IT system to deliver the payment. The Coalition hopes to introduce a year's paid paternal leave which can be shared between mothers and fathers. This proposal is based on an inter-departmental review established by Children's Minister James Reilly.
It is hoped a full year of paternal leave, which is the norm in Scandinavian countries, would help reduce the cost of childcare and encourage women back into the workforce.