May 16, 2018
The Social Democrats have welcomed the passage today at committee stage of our Bill to increase to six months the amount of unpaid parental leave available to working parents of children aged up to 12.
The Parental Leave (Amendment) Bill 2017 aims to help working families enjoy better work-life balance by permitting parents to spend more time caring for their children.
The Bill allows parents to take a total of six months (26 weeks) unpaid leave from their jobs without their employment rights being affected. This is eight weeks more than the current period of four months (18 weeks) unpaid leave. The Bill also allows leave over the lifetime of children up to the age of 12 (currently 8).
The party’s co-leader Róisín Shortall TD said:
“We are very pleased that our proposals to give more flexibility to working families received the backing today of fellow legislators at the Select Committee on Justice and Equality.
“Increasing the amount of unpaid leave available represents a win-win for both working parents and employees. For parents with pre-school children in particular, unpaid parental leave can be a realistic alternative to paying high costs of formal childcare.”
The party’s spokesperson on Children, Cllr Jennifer Whitmore, added:
“Employers are understandably keen to retain women workers – and these measures could be the difference between a mother staying in her job as an active member of the workforce, or quitting out of exhaustion and stress. We are delighted that our Bill is now one step closer to becoming law.”
16 May 2018
Notes to Editors: The Parental Leave (Amendment) Bill 2017 extends unpaid parental leave from 18 weeks to 26 weeks for all parents with children up to 12 years old.
If parents have already taken all of their parental leave, they will be allowed an extra 8 weeks under the Bill – once they still have a qualifying child.
Ireland’s laws on parental leave derive almost entirely from EU legislation. While we are allowed to go beyond these, Ireland has adopted a leave period just above the minimum number of weeks set down under EU law.
The Social Democrats are committed to the introduction of paid parental leave, and proposed such a move in each of our alternative Budget proposals for Budgets 2016, 2017 & 2018. Under Dáil rules, opposition parties are prevented from proposing Bills where there is a cost to the State. This is why we have focused on unpaid parental leave in this Bill.
Ireland is well behind other countries when it comes to parental leave. Many countries allow parents four sets of leave – maternity, paternity, parental, and childcare/carers. According to the European Commission, the average duration of combined maternity and parental leave among Member States is 97.8 weeks. In Ireland the maximum for a woman is only 60 and it’s only 20 for a man.