In the past we have spoken at length about the importance of employers and employees alike maintaining a health work: life balance. Striking the right balance between your work and home lives can be an arduous task but it is one that makes for a smoother runner work day, healthier home life and a marked increase in productivity levels. We have also discussed how parental leave in other EU countries differs greatly from our own and how changes in parental leave can greatly benefit the maintenance of a positive work: life balance. It seems that positive changes are imminent and may start the process of bringing Ireland into line with other countries where the balance has been found to be more positive. From September 1st 2016 a new paternity leave scheme will be brought into effect which will finally introduce a statutory paternity leave. This new law was signed into law by the president late last month.
The new statutory paternity leave will offer two working weeks of leave for employees and works in conjunction with a new paternity benefit, both available for in relation to any child born after September 1st 2016. Tánaiste Francis Fitzgerald was the first to welcome these developments, saying:
“I welcome the enactment of the Paternity Leave and Benefit Bill 2016. The Act provides fathers with two weeks of paternity leave and two weeks of paternity benefit for babies born on or after September 1st 2016. This is a significant piece of legislation which recognises the key role that fathers play in the life of new-born babies and young children.”
The Tánaiste also stated that this new legislation is indicative of the current government’s commitment to investing in the early years of childhood and improving the work-life balance of parents. This will certainly be a welcome development for all working parents as it will lessen the need for new parents to utilise their much needed and coveted holiday days during this time of change. The Tánaiste also stated that it is hoped that the government would be in a position to extend parental leave further in the years ahead which would bring Ireland more in line with other countries.
Crucially, this legislation does not apply only to the father of the child. The legislation provides for same sex couples as it specifies that the applicant must be a “relevant parent” which translates as someone other than the child’s mother who is either the father of the child, a spouse, civil partner or cohabitant of the mother. The leave may also be postponed in some instances such as sickness of the parent or hospitalisation of the child. A critical point is that this legislation will also afford the applicant with similar protections as those available for maternity and adoptive leave.
It is advised that in the interest of fairness, any employers that currently offer a top-up payment for employees taking maternity or adoptive leave should ensure that this is also available to those availing of this new paternity leave.
Should you require any advice or guidance on these or any other financial and business matters please don’t hesitate to contact us here at DCA Accountants where we are always happy to help you take your business to the next level.
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