Parental Leave Scheme - real progress though it could have gone further, Congress

23 Apr 2019

Parental Leave

Congress notes the publication today of the new Parental Leave Scheme providing for paid parental leave for each parent of a child under one, whether employed or self-employed. The leave will initially be set at two weeks, increasing on a phased basis over the next three years to seven weeks. This is in addition to existing maternity, paternity and adoptive leave entitlements.  

While it will provide working parents with further opportunity to spend more time with their baby in its crucial first year of development, it still falls someway short of the entire first year.

It will also help to pave the way for an increase in women's participation in the labour market and more involvement of fathers as carers. Countries that provide a significant portion of leave for fathers and pay the leave at a relatively high replacement rate tend to experience higher take-up rates for fathers and a positive trend in mothers' employment rate.

The scheme was previously announced as part of the Budget 2019 package of measures, it is also anticipating the recently agreed EU Work Life Balance Directive which includes a commitment to: "the right of each parent to at least 4 months of parental leave to be taken full-time, part-time or needs-based for each child up to the age of 8 years old. It extends from one to two non-transferable months of parental leave. Moreover, the two non-transferable months must be paid at adequate level, with the payment to be determined by national governments".  

"These are positive developments for working parents" said David Joyce, Equality Officer. "It represents real progress even if it could have gone further.

Congress will be studying the scheme published today by Minister Regina Doherty to examine whether it is consistent with the proposed Directive. The social partners will have an important role to play in transposition and implementation and Congress looks forward to participating in those discussions.