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No plans to introduce paid paternity leave for new fathers

Joan Burton says paternity leave would not only need a new law, but have significant cost implications for employers.

THE GOVERNMENT HAS said there are no plans at present to introduce a system of paid paternity leave for male workers after they become fathers.

Joan Burton said there were no plans to introduce a system where new fathers would be given two weeks’ paid leave from their jobs after the birth of their child.

The minister said such a system would have “significant cost implications for employers” as well as for the State and the social insurance fund.

She also said the payment of such a benefit would require the justice minister Alan Shatter to introduce new laws establishing such a right in the first place.

Currently the fathers of children are entitled only to parental leave, where they can take a period of up to 18 weeks off work – unpaid – in respect of children aged up to 8 years of age.

There were 72,225 children born in Ireland last year – meaning, in theory, that two weeks of paid leave for each father could mean 722,250 working days lost to the economy.

The latest CSO figures show 991,600 males were working in Ireland at the end of March – or 56.2 per cent of the total number of males over the age of 15, bringing the actual number of days lost to 406,300.

This is the equivalent of the full annual workload of 1,750 people – or around 0.095 per cent of the total Irish workforce.

It could therefore be expected that the Irish economy would lose €154.4 million of output.

With the most recent CSO figures also showing average weekly earnings at €696.59, the lost hours of work would cost Ireland’s employers around €56.6 million in pay.

Column: ‘Those first months were magical’ – a dad’s paternity leave plea

Column: We must introduce paternity leave – for the sake of women, too

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