Nine questions you may have about new maternity leave answered
Mums and dads are to get two extra weeks to spend with family in the first year after baby's birth as part of reforms in Budget 2019. Here we answer any questions you may have about how it will work.
What will this new scheme do?
The new scheme will introduce for the first time paid parental leave for parents. Parents will be entitled to an extra two weeks’ leave per year. It is separate from maternity leave and paternity leave, which are in place already. Both parents will be entitled to take two weeks each on top of their existing entitlements until the child is one. There are plans to increase the benefit even further.
Do I have to take it?
No, the scheme is not mandatory.
Can I take my partner’s share?
No, the two weeks are non transferable, so each parent can use only their own two weeks.
When does it start?
The scheme is set to be included in this year’s Budget but is not expected to be on stream until late next year at the earliest.
Among the issues causing a long lead-in time is a need for a separate IT system, which will need to be developed to administer the payment.
Isn’t there already parental leave available?
Yes, a parent can take up to 18 weeks’ parental leave until a child turns eight. But it is unpaid and it is up to individual employers whether to pay parents who opt to avail of this leave.
Who is this new leave for?
The eligibility criteria is also still being worked out and work is under way to ensure that the criteria is as wide as possible in the same way as existing schemes for parents.
How much is it worth?
The exact details of the scheme have yet to be fully teased out by the Department of Social Protection but, at the moment, it is planned that
the scheme will run along the same lines as maternity and paternity benefit, which is worth €240 per week.
Why do we need it?
Parents can struggle to find childcare for a baby younger than one.
Will my employer have to pay for it?
No, the scheme – like maternity and paternity schemes – will see parents paid by the State.
The scheme will be upgraded in future budgets with plans for parents to be able to cover the first year of a child’s life with leave.