Speaking to RTÉ’s Prime Time programme last night, Minister Aodhán Ó Ríordáin has said that he is confident that the provision of two weeks paid paternity leave will be included in the Family Leave Bill, which is currently being drafted.
With Ireland being only one of nine European countries that does not provide a statutory entitlement to paid paternity leave, the Minister acknowledged that paternity leave in Ireland is “something we are well behind on”.
Ireland certainly appears to be lagging well behind other EU countries in this area, and in particular, our closest neighbors in the UK where fathers can take up to two weeks ordinary paid paternity leave, paid by the employer at the flat rate of £138.18 per week or 90% of their average weekly earnings (whichever is lower), and the option to take additional paternity leave. In fact, the UK has plans to go even further to improve its current regime. With effect from April 2015, mothers in the UK will be able to share a large portion of their paid maternity leave with their partners allowing families more choice over how they look after their children.
Before the fathers amongst you start breaking out in celebration, the Minister was careful not to make any commitments regarding changes to our current regime. Adding a note of caution, he said that “there is nothing definite in Irish politics…Things can change and priorities can change”.
One to watch in the future perhaps!