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Blog  »  October 2015  »  Paternity Leave – It’s finally here! - Blog
15
Oct 15

Posted by
Laura Murphy

Paternity Leave – It’s finally here!

Budget 2016 confirmed months of speculation that Irish fathers would finally receive paid paternity leave. Full details are yet to be announced, but on the birth of a child new fathers will be entitled to 2 weeks leave, paid at statutory pay rates. The new legislation will come into effect in September 2016.

Paternity leave to-date in Ireland has been purely at the discretion of employers, leaving many new fathers forced to take annual leave or unpaid leave on the birth of a child.

Against our European neighbours, we have been lagging miserably behind, with 20 of our neighbouring States already offering paid paternity leave. Top of the list, are (predictably) the Scandinavian countries, with Finland, for example, offering 9 weeks paid paternity leave. However, we are really shown-up by some of the other countries who too have paid paternity leave options in place, including Slovenia, Latvia and Hungary

Overall, our family leave policies are extremely “maternalist”, being based on the assumption that women are still the primary child care providers. Again, other countries are ahead of us in recognising the role of working mothers and the value of both parents in the first year of a child’s life. For example, in the UK the majority of working parents have the opportunity to share 50 weeks of shared parental leave after the birth of a child. Whilst Minister for Children James Reilly has hinted at the possibility of a full years’ parental leave to be available to be shared by both parents, it is unlikely that we will see this measure anytime soon.

For now, employers need to be ready to update the policies and procedures outlined in their employee handbooks and clearly communicate to employees what is available to them.

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