FINANCE Minister Paschal Donohoe has signalled the Government will make changes to the State's Covid-19 wage subsidy scheme to allow new mothers to access it.
Mr Donohoe and the Government have been heavily criticised after it emerged that women looking to return to work after maternity leave are excluded from the temporary wage subsidy scheme (TWSS).
This is because they were not on their employer's payroll in January or February. These women are instead being forced onto the pandemic unemployment payment.
While Mr Donohoe had previously signalled the issue could not be addressed without changes to the law - and would therefore be delayed until a new Government is formed - Sinn Féin and others have argued it could be done without legislation by issuing a direction to Revenue.
Speaking in the Dáil, Mr Donohoe said he was working with officials in the Department of Finance and the Revenue Commissioners to "identify if there is a way of resolving it".
He was responding to questions from Fianna Fáil finance spokesman Michael McGrath
Speaking later in response to Sinn Féin TD David Cullinane, Mr Donohoe said it was "intention that all are treated equally by legislation" and said it was his "desire to see if there is a way of dealing with it".
The Government has been referred to the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission by the National Women's Council (NWCI), which says it was "discriminatory".
Social Democrats TD Catherine Murphy asked Mr Donohoe if consideration has been given to extending maternity leave as part of the solution for mothers.
She said it's not the "most ideal time" to have a baby as the support networks "that would normally kick in is not available to most".
Mr Donohoe said that idea has been put to him.
He said the issue of mothers returning to work following maternity leave is "an important and pressing matter for many at the moment".
Mr Donohoe said his preference is to deal with the issue "through our tax code".