Leo Varadka urges businesses to pay full salaries in paternity leave

Pic: Leah Farrell

Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar has appealed to employers to top up payments for fathers taking paternity leave from September, saying businesses should pay full salary levels.

An information campaign has been launched for the new two-week leave. It will guarantee new fathers two weeks’ leave and basic statutory welfare payments.

However, new dads will also need to have a public service card to apply for the leave, due to a demand by the Department of Social Protection to ensure the new system is fully operational online.

Mr Varadkar yesterday signed the changes into law, which will cost €5m this year and €20m for a full year.

The changes will guarantee fathers €230 a week, paid to their employer from the State. However, Mr Varaddar said bosses should ensure full salary levels remain when fathers take the leave.

He encouraged the “vast majority” of employers to top-up the amounts so workers got normal salary levels. Most fathers in the public sector would receive full salaries for the leave taken, he noted.

The self-employed, same- sex couples, and those adopting will also be able to take the leave, he said.

Applicants must apply online and also give their employers, where necessary, four weeks’ notice to take the leave. The leave can be used within the first 26 weeks of the new birth or adoption.

Expecting fathers would be informed of the new leave through an online campaign through social networking websites, officials said.

Mr Varadkar admited it was unfortunate that other parents with new babies could not apply for paternity leave but there had to be a cut off period. The arrangement applies only from September 1.

Mr Varadkar said: “We want to make sure that fathers- and mothers-to-be across Ireland know they can start claiming for two weeks of paternity benefit from September 1.

“We also want to ensure fathers know how to apply. It’s really simple, but you need to take a few straightforward steps. You’re eligible for paternity benefit when you take your statutory two weeks of paternity leave and fulfil PRSI requirements. You can take paternity leave at any time within the first 26 weeks of the child’s life, or following adoption.”


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