The recently published Government Legislative programme notes that the introduction of paternity leave is a priority for the newly formed Government with the publication of the Paternity Leave and Paternity Benefits Bill due before the summer recess.

The last Government pledged in Budget 2016 to introduce two weeks' paid paternity leave for fathers. This was initially to be included in the Family Leave Bill however this Bill will not be published for some time yet. This Bill involves a significant piece of work as it will consolidate all family leave legislation, including maternity leave, parental leave and carers' leave legislation.

The leave will now be introduced in a standalone Bill. It will comprise of 2 weeks' leave (to be taken at any time during the 26 weeks' maternity leave) and to be paid at the rate of €230 per week. This is the same as the current rate of maternity benefit and based on the same PRSI contributions. The scheme will be available to all working fathers, including self-employed fathers.

The introduction of this leave will undoubtedly be welcomed by parents. Up until now, Ireland has had one of the most limited paternity leave regimes in Europe (a father could only take leave in the circumstances where a mother died during her maternity leave and the father became entitled to the balance of the leave).