Cabinet to back paternity leave

Two weeks’ paternity benefit will today be approved by the Cabinet, paving the way for fathers to take paid leave from work from September.

The proposed measure will allow fathers take leave within 26 weeks of the birth.

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald will bring a memo to Cabinet today for the plan, which will also be overseen by Social Protection Minister Joan Burton.

Employers will be obliged to grant the leave to fathers, which will give payments of €230 a week, similar to maternity leave. It is believed the new period of leave for fathers will cost €5m this year, whereas the full year cost in 2017 will rise to €20m.

The move, already announced in the budget, was widely welcomed by family support groups. While employers currently voluntarily give fathers time off after a baby is born, men are not entitled to any paid leave through the State.

The paternity benefit is expected to be included as part of the Family Law Bill and voted on by the Dáil before the general election is called.

Labour has promised to extend paternal leave, on top of the six months’ maternity and two weeks’ paternity leave already in place, if returned to power.


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