The Parents Leave and Benefit Bill 2019, which has been published by the Minister for Justice and Equality and the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection, will provide for two weeks paid parental leave for each parent of a child born or adopted on or after 1 November 2019 in the first year of a child’s life.

Existing entitlement to Parental Leave

Currently, eligible employees are entitled to take 22 weeks unpaid parental leave for each child up to the age of 12 (this will increase to 26 weeks from 1 September 2020). If the child suffers from a disability or long-term illness, parental leave for that child can be taken up to the age of 16. Parental leave for a child adopted between the age of 10 and 12 can be taken up to two years after the date of the adoption order. In order to be entitled to take parental leave, the employee must have completed one year’s continuous service with their employer.

The Parents Leave and Benefit Bill 2019

In addition to the current maternity, paternity and adoptive leave entitlements under Irish employment law, the Parents Leave and Benefit Bill 2019 provides that eligible parents of children born or adopted on or after 1 November 2019 will be entitled to take two weeks paid leave in the first year of the child’s life. It is expected that the two weeks’ Parental Leave is intended to gradually increase to seven weeks over the next three years

It is estimated that up to 60,000 people could benefit from the scheme in a full year, and in both 2017 and 2018, almost 25,000 new fathers availed of the newly established two-week paid paternity leave scheme, said Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan. He added that “[h]aving a new baby is a magical time, but it can also be very challenging. We want to support parents and help give them more opportunities to spend time with their children.”

In order to avail of the two weeks paid parental leave entitlement, the employee must have completed one year of continuous service with their employer. In the case of multiple births or the adoption of multiple children at the same time, each parent shall only be entitled to one period of parental leave. Furthermore, eligible parents will not be entitled to transfer any part of their parental leave. The two weeks parental leave will be paid at the same rate as maternity benefit and paternity benefit which is currently €245 per week.