Varadkar extends paternity benefit to charity volunteers working overseas
Paternity benefit is to be extended to aid volunteers working overseas who are not currently in paid employment.
Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar has moved to ensure that people who travel abroad to work on projects in developing regions can still qualify for leave if they have a child.
From next month, fathers will be legally entitled to two weeks' leave and a basic statutory welfare payment of €460.
Employers have also been urged to top up the payments, so that workers get their normal salary levels.
The minister has now issued a statutory instrument that factors in volunteers working overseas, such as Irish aid agency VSOs who are not currently in paid employment.
A similar measure is already in place for maternity benefit for volunteers.
The qualifying criteria are applied in such a manner as to ensure that volunteers are not disadvantaged as a result of time spent working abroad in a voluntary capacity.
A volunteer development worker is entitled to paternity benefit, provided that he has paid the necessary contributions for not less than 39 weeks.
A father who ceases to be a volunteer development worker is entitled to paternity benefit in respect of any claim made in the benefit year in which he returns to Ireland from a developing country.
His time overseas can also count in the next benefit year, provided that he has qualifying contributions paid in respect of not less than 39 contribution weeks.
This contrasts with the requirements for a 'standard applicant', who must have paid at least 39 weeks of PRSI contributions in the 12 months before the first day of his paternity leave.
Last week, Mr Varadkar launched an awareness campaign to encourage expectant fathers to take paternity leave from September 1.