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Dads get a paternity leave boost for Father's Day

Tomorrow will see the publication of the Paternity Bill, a first for Ireland.

Image: Shutterstock/Yuriy Rudyy

FATHER’S DAY HAS brought some good news for dads and dads-to-be in Ireland.

The Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald TD, and the Minister for Social Protection, Leo Varadkar TD, took the opportunity to confirm this afternoon that the long-awaited Paternity Bill will be published tomorrow.

This means that fathers will be able to take two weeks of paternity leave and receive two weeks of paternity benefit after their child is born.

The bill provides for same-sex couples on an equal basis with other couples.

While the bill provides for the happy occasion of a child’s birth, it also deals with more sensitive issues. It ensures that in the event of a stillbirth or death, the entitlement to paternity leave still continues. In the event of a parental death, the other parent inherits whatever leave has not been taken.

The Department of Social Protection will provide paid paternity benefit of €230 per week for the two weeks of Paternity Leave. In addition, employers will also have the option of providing a further top-up to the dad’s regular salary if they wish.

The bill will be formally published tomorrow and introduced to the Dáil this coming Friday.

When enacted, the legislation will allow new dads to start the combined package of paternity leave and paternity benefit at any time within the first six months following birth.

It will also apply to the fathers of newly-adopted children.

The Tánaiste said that this legislation has been a priority for her since the new Partnership Government was established in May.

Consistent findings show that targeting investment in a child’s early years leads to better outcomes for both the child and wider society.

She said that she supports the Government’s commitment to significantly increase parental leave over the next five years and cut the cost of childcare.

PATERNITY BILL 4563 Taniste and Minister for Justice, Frances Fitzgerald, with Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar, at the launch of the Paternity Leave Bill Source: Eamonn Farrell

Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar commented: “Parenting is changing and fathers are more and more involved in raising their children.”

Ireland is behind the curve compared to our European colleagues but this combined package of paternity leave and paternity benefit will help to address that.

“The more time that fathers can spend with their babies the better,” he said.

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For the first time, the 256,000 self-employed men in Ireland will be able to take paid Paternity Benefit. “Paternity Leave and Benefit can be taken at any point up until the child reaches 28 weeks of age,” said Minister Varadkar.

This bill meets the commitment in Budget 2016 and in Programme for Government to introduce two weeks’ paternity leave and an associated social insurance benefit payment as from September 2016.

Unlike most EU Member States, Ireland has had no provision for paternity leave.

It is envisaged that the Bill will be enacted by the end of July, so that it can be commenced in time for the benefit and leave arrangements to kick in at the end of September.

Amendments to both family leave legislation and social welfare legislation will be required for this bill to be enacted.

Read: New parents to receive extra four weeks of parental leave>

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