Extension of Parents' Leave positive but payment rates need to be addressed

30 Nov 2020

Parental Leave

Congress notes the reported comments of Roderic O'Gorman, the Minister of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, that Parents' leave is to be extended to nine weeks for both fathers and mothers.

Congress Equality Officer David Joyce says that “While welcome, this is a minimum requirement of the EU Work Life Balance Directive which has to be transposed fully into Irish law by August 2022”.

Commenting on the fact that 50% of fathers are not availing of the paid two weeks away from work provided by paternity leave, the Minister has also expressed his disappointment at the relatively low rate of take up. 

There are indeed cultural and societal issues at play here but the level of payment is also a determining factor. Paternity and Parents' leave are both paid at a rate of €245 per week by the State.

A recent spending review by DPER entitled, Focused Policy Assessment: Paid Parents' Leave Scheme, found that no salary top ups are paid for the new scheme in the public service. It also pointed to survey evidence from IBEC which suggests that fewer companies will offer salary top ups in the private sector.

The assessment goes on to state that: “the scheme does not address the existing disparity in leave entitlements or the low uptake rate of paternity leave. As such it is unlikely to support families in the more equal sharing of care responsibilities or address women’s underrepresentation in the labour market”.

David Joyce added: “With average weekly net earnings in the private sector over 2.5 times the SIF payment, this is an issue that will have to dalt with as part of the transposition process”.

For further information contact: David Joyce, ICTU Equality Officer on 087 2260213