Tuesday 24 April 2018

Proposal to extend parental leave approved by the Dáil

The Bill has now been referred to a review committee

Everybody knows you don't provoke an Irish mother. Stock photo
Everybody knows you don't provoke an Irish mother. Stock photo
Wayne O'Connor

Wayne O'Connor

A proposal to extend Ireland's parental leave from 18 to 26 weeks has been referred to a review committee after receiving approval in the Dáil.

Equality minister David Stanton said the government would not oppose the Bill but added he would prefer to see a situation where Ireland would eventually have paid parental leave.

The proposal by the Social Democrats allows parents take a total of six months unpaid leave from work without their employment rights being affected.

This is an increase on the 18 weeks unpaid leave currently on offer per child aged up to eight-years-old, the minimum allowed under EU law.

Fianna Fáil, Labour and Sinn Féin also expressed support for the Bill.

Minister Staunton said further engagement would be of benefit to help the Bill progress beyond the committee.

“The Bill could be enhanced by a consultative process with the main stakeholders. I think that is very important to give everybody an opportunity to engage with the legislation,” he said.

The Bill is focused on unpaid leave because Dáil rules prevent opposition parties from proposing Bills where there will be a cost to the State.

Social Democrats co-leader Róisín Shorthall said she welcomed support for the proposal.

“Since we launched this Bill last April we have had a very positive response,” she said.

"While it has been in the news we have had several messages and queries from parents asking when is this going to happen. They very much welcome it and creating that access to flexible work options is invaluable for many parents.”

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