As of yesterday (23/04/2019) a new Parental Leave entitlement was announced for fathers prompting a discussion surrounding the topic of how much time new moms and dads can take off work when there’s a new addition to the family.
From November, under new legislation, both new moms and dads will be granted two weeks extra parental leave on top of the current maternity/paternity leave entitlements.
So what exactly is the benefit for parents once the new bill comes into action in November 2019?
Under the Maternity Protection Acts 1994 & 2004, new mothers are entitled to a period of 26 weeks maternity leave beginning two weeks before the expected birth of the child.
Of those 26 weeks, eight of those – including the two prior to birth and six after the birth – must be taken as leave under the Irish law system, while the mother can then decide what she would like to do with the remaining 18 weeks. The mother can decide to return to work or perhaps they may rather remain at home for the 18 week period.
Maternity benefit is paid up to €245 per week by the Department of Employment Affairs & Social Protection.
Some companies take the option to top up the payment from the state to match the general wage the individual would receive when working.
The qualification for the state payment is based on PRSI contributions and other payments already being received by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection such as the widow’s pension, lone parent, etc.
New mothers can also choose to take a further 16 weeks’ unpaid maternity leave taken immediately at the end of the initial 26 week period.
New fathers are entitled to two weeks paternity leave. These two weeks must be used within 26 weeks following the birth or adoption of a child.
Similarly to Maternity Leave benefit payment, new dads are paid €245 per week but employers can decide whether or not they want to top the payment up for their employee when their salary is higher than the received benefit.
As well as Maternity/Paternity leave, parents are also entitled to a period of parental leave until their child is eight years of age, or 16 years old in the case of a child with an illness or disability.
However, changes set to come into effect from November 1st 2019 mean there will be paid parental parental leave available to parents within the first year following the birth or adoption of a child.
Both parents will be entitled to two weeks’ parental leave, set to increase each year, eventually rising to seven weeks paid parental leave over the next three years.
Social Protection minister Regina Doherty said the changes were being made to reflect a need for both parents to spend time with their child in its formative years, as well as challenging gender culture which relies on mothers staying at home while fathers go out to work.
This means that new moms will eventually be entitled to 33 weeks of paid leave, provided that they have made enough PRSI contributions, while fathers will eventually be entitled to seven weeks.
In order to qualify under the PRSI scheme, an individual must have paid 39 weeks’ PRSI contributions in the 12-month period before the first day of maternity leave, or 39 weeks’ PRSI contributions in the previous two years.
One parent’s leave cannot be transferred to the other parent – meaning, if the father did not want to take his two weeks himself, he cannot transfer them to his partner. This is put in place to try and encourage men to take advantage of the scheme.
Source: The Journal