Extra parental leave not enough, warns group
A parental advocacy group has warned the Government proposals to extend parental leave to 12 months split between both parents is just "one of many required changes".
Teresa Heeney, the chief executive of Early Childhood Ireland, said that the Government's proposed plan - which would see mothers and fathers being given additional paid weeks off work if they agree to split parental leave would just address one aspect of Ireland's childcare problem.
"We need a whole plan that addresses the current weaknesses in capitation levels, the salaries and conditions of the workforce and affordability and choice for parents," Ms Heeney said.
"Parents would welcome such a policy shift as well and we welcome the proposal that some of the time would be shared among parents.
"This plan is, however, only one of many required. This sector has been badly hit by underinvestment."
This proposed plan is just one of a number issues which is currently being discussed by an inter-departmental working group.
The group has also been tasked with examining the impact of childcare costs on the labour market.
Ms Heeney said that "we must also consider ceilings on childcare fees linked to the percentage of household income" and that "greater State investment" would be required to tackle this issue.
"For example, 15pc is the current OECD average in contrast with today's parents in Ireland who are paying 34pc of household income," she added.
Ms Heeney said an extension "of parental leave to one year over the next five years would reflect international evidence that confirms that young children do better in their first year when they are at home with their parents".
Women are currently entitled to just 26 weeks paid maternity leave, with the option of taking an additional 16 unpaid weeks.