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Parents' Leave soon to be extended to nine weeks

Parent’s Leave is a statutory entitlement for parents and is different to parental, maternity or paternity leave.

GOVERNMENT IS SOON to announced that paid parents’ leave is to extended to nine weeks. 

Parents’ leave currently provides seven weeks’ paid leave for each parent, to be taken within a child’s first two years.

Parent’s Leave is a statutory entitlement for parents and is different to parental, maternity or paternity leave.

Maternity Leave is available for 26 paid weeks and up to 16 additional unpaid weeks around the birth of a child, while Paternity Leave is also available on the birth of a child for two paid weeks.

Parental Leave is an unpaid period of 26 weeks that parents and guardians of children under the age of 12 can avail of.

Speaking to reporters at Bloom Festival in Phoenix Park this afternoon, Children’s Minister Roderic O’Gorman said:

“We will be announcing in the next number of days a further extension of parents’ leave  – paid two weeks -  available to both parents, going from seven weeks to nine weeks.

“That was two weeks when I became minister. We’ve grown that now to nine weeks per child per per parent.”

The minister highlighted that a record number of children – more than 150,000 – are now benefitting from the National Childcare Scheme (NCS), with record numbers of providers now offering the scheme to parents nationwide.

In September, a 25% average reduction in the cost of childcare at creches and other facilities subsidised will be available through the government’s NCS. This is in addition to the 25% reduction rolled out in January 2023. 

The increase in government subsidies to the sector, matching a similar measure introduced last year, will benefit the families of well over 100,000 children who are cared for in creches, after-school schemes and other facilities that receive government funding.

When asked if he will be pushing for more childcare supports in budget negotiations this summer, the minister said that when he came into office the main concern raised with him was cost, but now it is capacity, with many parents stating that they are struggling to find a place for their child. 

O’Gorman said “challenges remain” in the child care system, acknowledging that capacity is a major issue.

This year he said he is focused on expanding capital grants to child care services, stating that government is working with local authorities in terms of delivering better planning rules to make sure that childcare services can be delivered.

He also pointed to the Equal Start scheme, a Deis model for early years, which was launched recently, which commits increased funding from September.

He said about 800 child care services around the country will be called equal start services and will get additional funding for extra staff so they can bring down the child to teacher ratios.

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