Sunday 18 March 2018

Two weeks paternity leave for fathers to get formal approval

James Reilly
James Reilly
Niall O'Connor

Niall O'Connor

THE Cabinet will on Tuesday formally approve plans to provide two weeks paid paternity leave for fathers.

The widely welcomed move, which was announced in the Budget, will see fathers for the first time take paid leave from work after the birth of their child.

The father will be able to avail of the two weeks immediately after birth, or else any period up until the child reaches 26 weeks.

The clause, detailed in part 4 of heads of the bill going to Cabinet, will allow the father to spend time with the child immediately after the mother returns to work following her maternity leave.

However, Coalition sources emphasised that only the heads of the bill will be agreed on Tuesday - meaning it will the prerogative of the next Government to enact the legislator on.

The new scheme will see fathers paid €230 per week, the equivalent as maternity benefit.

The two weeks paternity leave is due to come into effect by the end of September, at a cost of €5m.

It is estimated a full year of the scheme will cost around €20m based on Central Statistics Office (CSO) figures.

The scheme brings Ireland in line with other European countries and was agreed following work carried out by an inter-departmental group, whose members included Children's Minister James Reilly and Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald.

A government source said: "Additional resources will be provided to tackle the high cost of childcare if we keep the recovery going".

The Coalition hopes to introduce a year's paid paternal leave which can be shared between mothers and fathers. This proposal is based on an inter-departmental review established by Dr Reilly.

It is hoped a full year of paternal leave, which is the norm in Scandinavian countries, would help reduce the cost of childcare and encourage women back into the workforce.

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