Welcome from support groups as Minister publishes Bill to allow working parents more time with children

Welcome from support  groups as Minister publishes Bill to allow working parents more time with children

Working parents will soon be able to spend an extra two weeks at home with their baby or newly adopted child.

That is under new rules coming into effect from November 1, and could benefit up to 60,000 new parents.

The Government said it is committed to supporting working parents and promoting a greater work-life balance, and the new Parents Leave and Benefit Bill, will provide for two weeks leave and benefit for each parent in first year of child's life from November 1 this year.

The Bill was published over the weekend by Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan, Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty and Minister of State with responsibility for Equality, David Stanton.

Benefit will be paid at the same rate as Maternity and Paternity benefits and support is available to employees and the self-employed.

Minister Flanagan said he hopes all new parents will avail of the scheme to help give them more opportunities to spend time with their children.

CIPD Ireland, the umbrella body for human resource and learning & development professionals in Ireland, has welcomed the publication of the Bill.

The new Parental Leave and Benefit Bill will apply to parents of children either born or adopted from November 1st, 2019. The benefit will be paid at the same rate as maternity and paternity benefits, while the supports will be made available to both employees and the self-employed.

Director of CIPD Ireland, Mary Connaughton, said: “Workers are taking advantage of these recent legal changes, with Government figures showing that 25,000 fathers have benefited annually from the existing paternity leave scheme. For mothers, it means they will now be entitled to 28 weeks paid maternity leave, while fathers will be entitled to 4 weeks of paid paternity leave of €245 per week.”

“The big challenge for employers is whether to “top-up” the salaries of their employees who are new parents. In our experience, that is most likely to happen in the public sector, and in IT and finance. However, individual employers have to make a decision as to whether they can afford to ensure those availing of parent’s leave can receive their full salary.”

Parent’s Leave is the latest addition to a suite of measures to help new parents. The Parental Leave (Amendment) Act 2019 came into effect on September 1st, and extended optional, unpaid parental leave. The law allows parents to take up to 22 working weeks of unpaid parental leave, an extra four weeks on top of the previous entitlement.

Mary Connaughton added: “At CIPD Ireland, we welcome efforts to streamline provision of these entitlements, however we fear there is still some concern about the combination of schemes and rules relating to new parents. Both employers and employees have found them somewhat confusing, and every effort should be make access to these entitlements as easy as possible.”

CIPD Ireland says it would welcome further engagement with the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection and the Department of Justice and Equality to avoid a situation where employers make inadvertent mistakes and employees miss out on their entitlements.

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