The Paternity Leave and Benefit Bill 2016 was published late last month. Under the proposed legislation, fathers will be entitled to two weeks of statutory paternity leave and two weeks of State paternity benefit of €230 per week (subject to the individual having made sufficient PRSI contributions prior to commencing the leave) to be taken at any time within the first six months following the birth of their child. The benefit will be available to both employed and self-employed fathers. It will also apply in the same way to fathers of newly-adopted children and to same-sex couples on an equal basis with other couples. The legislation is expected to be introduced in September 2016. Employers may top-up this paternity benefit for the statutory two week period if they wish. It is fully expected that many employers will provide this top-up.

In light of this, we would recommend that, once introduced, Irish employers review and update their contract templates and employee handbook to include a paternity leave policy that explains their employees’ entitlements in respect of paternity leave and ensures they are compliant with the revised national law.