Ireland: Statutory Paternity Leave Approved

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By Ali Qassim

July 28—New Irish fathers will be entitled to paternity leave for the first time after the Dáil (the lower house of the Irish parliament) approved the Paternity Leave and Benefit Bill.

Effective Sept. 1, 2016, the new legislation will introduce statutory paternity leave of two weeks together with a new paternity benefit worth 230 euros ($252) a week–the same amount the Department of Social Protection pays mothers on maternity leave.

“This is a positive development as Ireland has been way behind on paternity leave entitlements” and “will bring us in line with the minimum in many countries around Europe,” the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (Ireland) said.

Cost to Employers

Until now, only mothers have been entitled to statutory paid parental leave. Under the Maternity Protection Acts 1994 and 2004, new mothers are entitled to 26 weeks’ maternity leave and 16 weeks additional unpaid leave.

Eligible fathers will need to make use of paternity leave within the first six months following the birth or adoption of a child.

Despite welcoming the new paternity leave, the CIPD warned that the new employment rights will mean additional administrative and personnel costs for employers.

Many large employers currently provide a maternity leave top-up payment to cover the difference between the government payment and the woman’s normal pay, CIPD said. From an equality and equity perspective, these employers will likely have to consider a similar approach for male employees in receipt of the state paternity benefit, which will also result in additional payroll costs.

CIPD recommended that to prepare for the new parental rights employers review all leave and working hours policies to see where they might increase flexible options for employees to support caring responsibilities and in so doing boost employee engagement and retention.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ali Qassim at correspondents@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Rick Vollmar at rvollmar@bna.com

For More Information

Text of the Paternity Leave and Benefit Bill is available here.

For more information on Irish HR law and regulation, see the Ireland primer.

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