Over 50,000 fathers avail of paternity leave payment in the last two years
More than 50,000 fathers have taken the two-week paternity payment since it launched in September 2016, new figures have shown.
Some 51,409 have availed of the Paternity Benefit provided by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, including 4,100 self-employed people.
The €240 per week payment allows fathers to receive payment covered by covered by pay related social insurance (PRSI) for two weeks.
Some 26,559 fathers availed of the payment in 2017, with 2,102 parents availing of the payment in October 2018 alone.
Of these, Dublin and Cork received the highest number of applicants last month, with 593 being awarded in Dublin and 259 people in Cork.
The Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Regina Doherty, said she was "delighted" to see fathers availing of the payment.
"I am delighted that working parents, both employees and self-employed, are availing of their PRSI to get two weeks paid Paternity Benefit following the birth or adoption of their baby," she said.
"The Government recognises the importance of providing support for parents of young children and is very much aware that the first year in a child’s life is of particular importance. This is very much emphasised in the programme for Government."
Ms Doherty also welcomed 2019 pay increase as a result of Budget 2019, which will see the weekly payment rise by €5.
"I was particularly pleased to secure a new Parental Benefit scheme which will allow both parents to access additional paid Parental Leave in the first year of their child’s life.
"This means that both parents will have access to an additional two weeks each of Parental Benefit, which will also be paid at the rate of €245 per week."
It was announced in September that new mothers and fathers will each get two extra weeks off work to spend with their baby as part of reforms in Budget 2019.
The scheme will offer two weeks for both a mother and father, which must be taken in the first year of a child's life.
The Social Protection Minister praised the new initiative for offering fathers more time with their children.
"This new scheme is designed to be family-friendly and flexible. Parents will be able to take the new paid leave any time – and at the same time if they so wish – during their child’s first year," she said.
"The first 12 months of life are incredibly formative for a child and the benefit of allowing parents’ greater time with a new baby will be beneficial to individual children, families and society as a whole.
"I am particularly happy that, with both paternal leave and this new parental leave scheme, we are creating more opportunities for fathers to have the time to spend with their new arrivals as this greatly benefits both child and parent."