In the most recent Budget, the Government committed to the introduction of a Paternity Benefit Scheme. In January 2016, the Government announced that it had approved proposals to introduce paid paternity leave in Ireland.
When announcing the proposals, Minister for Justice, Frances Fitzgerald, noted that the introduction of paternity leave would have positive effects in terms of gender equality and would allow fathers to spend time caring for and being with their children and families. She further pointed out that, at present, Ireland is one of the few European countries without such leave.
It is proposed that from September 2016, fathers will be entitled to take two weeks’ statutory paternity leave on the birth of their child. In addition to this statutory paternity leave, fathers will be entitled to receive a social welfare payment of €230 per week, the same rate as maternity benefit. The paternity benefit will be paid to both self-employed and employed fathers provided they satisfy the requisite PRSI contribution requirements. It is proposed that fathers may take the paternity leave at any stage within 26 weeks of the birth of their child. Similar to maternity leave, an employer may decide to pay an employee during the two week period; however they are not required to do so.