The government recently published the General Scheme for the Parental Leave and Benefit Bill.(1) The bill provides for a paid parental leave benefit, which must be used within the first 12 months of a child's life or 12 months from the date of adoption.

Parental leave benefit

The parental leave benefit applies to eligible employees with at least one year's service who fall within the definition of 'relevant parent', including:

  • a child's mother or father;
  • a child's adoptive parent;
  • a child's nominated adoptive parent (in the case of same-sex married couples);
  • the parent of a donor-conceived child; or
  • the spouse, civil partner or cohabitant of a child's relevant parent or adoptive parent.

The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection will pay the benefit at the same rate as the maternity and paternity benefit (currently €245 a week). Individual employers can decide whether to top up the benefit for employees who earn more than this.

This new scheme came into effect on 1 November 2019. The bill provides for the minister to make regulations to set the duration of any paid parental leave. The government intends for the benefit to be paid for up to two weeks from 1 November 2019 and then plans to increase it to seven weeks per parent by 2021.

Comment

This development follows on from the increase in unpaid parental leave entitlement which took effect in September 2019. Together, these changes reflect a general trend across Europe of increasing family leave entitlements and placing a greater focus on work-life balance as a means of addressing gender representation in the workplace.

In light of these changes, employers should not only consider whether they should top up the parental leave benefit, but also review their family leave policies more generally to ensure that their business is in line with the latest developments.

For further information on this topic please contact Audrey Whyte at Lewis Silkin Ireland by telephone (+353 1566 9876) or email (audrey.whyte@lewissilkin.com). The Lewis Silkin Ireland website can be accessed at www.lewissilkin.com/en/ireland.

Endnotes

(1) The government's General Scheme for the Parental Leave and Benefit Bill is available here.

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