Parental Leave Bill
14 May 2019
On the likely passing of the Social Democrats’ Parental Leave (Amendment) Bill 2017 tonight David Joyce, Congress Equality Officer said:
This is a positive development which will allow parents to take a total of 26 weeks unpaid leave from their jobs without their employment rights being affected. This is eight weeks more than the current period of 18 weeks of unpaid leave. It also allows leave over the lifetime of children up to the age of 12, rising from the current threshold of eight years old.
However, as the Social Democrats themselves acknowledge, unpaid leave is not a substitute for paid parental leave; it is a complementary form of parental leave that offers parents additional flexibility in reconciling work and family life.
With up to 50% of workers in Ireland earning less than €34,000 in 2017 and almost one in five classified as low paid, it is clear that many households will be unable to avail of unpaid Parental Leave.
The recently published Parental Leave Scheme by Minister Regina Doherty anticipates 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 an adequate level, with the payment to be determined by national governments".
The introduction of a form of paid parental leave will make a real difference for working parents. Congress is studying the recently published scheme 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.