April 25th 2019
Parental leave for Irish parents is on the rise, but most are expected not to even take it.
A new parental leave scheme was recently announced by the Government, which will apply to all babies born after November 2019. These changes are expected to affect 60,000 parents a year.
As it stands, mothers can get 26 weeks’ paid maternity leave, 16 weeks unpaid leave and a further 18 weeks of unpaid parental leave. Fathers can make use of a similar period of parental leave plus two weeks paternity leave.
Irish Parental Leave changes
New parents will now get two further weeks of leave in the first year after birth, but this will be extended to seven weeks by 2021. Similar to paternity and maternity pay, the Government will offer a statutory rate of €245 a week.
There are also plans to extend that to 22 total weeks of unpaid leave from September, with an additional four weeks of unpaid leave in 2020.
Suggested read: Only 1% Of New Parents Take Parental Leave, Says Study
While this move will no doubt be costly for employers, the Government is standing strong in its decisions. Speaking of their decision, Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Regina Doherty said they were, in particular, hoping to offer men more leave and time with their new babies.
“What we’re trying to do is have a culture change.”
Only about 40% of Irish men took their parental leave last year and this low number is something the Government are trying to change. Research from Eurostat in 2018 found that 90% of fathers across the EU do not use their parental leave entitlements so it would seem a very large cultural shift will need to happen for this new scheme to have a big uptake.
However, with Government payments of just €245 a week, it is hard to see how many new parents will be able to afford unpaid leave.