The Paternity Leave and Benefit Act 2016 introduced statutory paternity leave for employees in Ireland in September 2016. It provides for two weeks’ paternity leave for fathers in relation to the birth or adoption of the child. While social welfare benefits are available from the State, there is no obligation on the employer to pay employees during such leave.
According to the Irish Times
, the latest figures released by the Department of Social Protection show that less than one in four new fathers are availing of State Paternity Benefits. This is a much lower uptake than the three out of five expected to avail of the scheme when it was first announced.
Between September 2016 and January 2017, just 5,545 paternity benefit applications were awarded. Estimates indicate that there were 24,000 births in this period which means that only about 23 per cent of fathers are applying for the benefit. The Department of Social Protection expects approximately 20,000 claims in 2017 however this is substantially less than the 30,000-40,000 fathers it initially predicted would avail of State Paternity Benefits. Interestingly, new fathers were shown to be more likely to take the benefit in urban areas such as Dublin, Cork and Kilkenny.