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 Parents Leave and Benefit Bill 2019

On the 1st November 2019, first time legislation pertaining to Parents Leave came into effect by virtue of the Parents Leave and Benefit Bill 2019 which confers a number of rights to either parent upon the of a child. it i important to note from the outset, that leave is deemed separate and distinct from Parental Leave, which was awkwardly updated several weeks prior to this laws enactment. 

The Parents Leave and Benefit Leave Bill introduced the concept of paid parents leave for employees in Ireland, subject to PRSI contributions. it provides that during the first year of the child’s life, or the first year of adoption, either parent has access to two weeks parental leave, paid for by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection at the same rate as the State Illness Benefit of €245 per week (known in this Bill as parent’s benefit) as set out in section 29. The Bill sets out in Section 29(7) that to avail of same, the relevant parent must take periods of at least one week’s leave, or a continuous period of two consecutive weeks. It is proposed this parental benefit will gradually increase to seven weeks paid leave over the next three years. The decision to ‘top up’ parent leave payments is entirely at the discretion of employers.

A major change that comes with this legislation is that accurate records of all applications for parents leave must be created and maintained. All such records must be kept for eight years after the leave is taken; failure to do, subjects the employer to a potential class B fine.

A recent development that may also be of note is the (currently) draft EU Directive on Work Life Balance for Parents and Carers which is currently being prepared by the European Commission. This directive aims to improve gender equality across the Eurozone, improve work-life balance, and attempt to narrow the numerous pay gaps identified between male and female workers across the EU. The draft Directive identified the lack of payment during parental leave as a key factor in this finding of inequality, and have suggested an “adequate allowance at least equivalent to the level of sick pay’’ be paid to employees on parental leave. It may also be worth noting that currently, all but six EU nations (including Ireland) offer some type of compensation during parental leave, and indications are that compensation for parental leave may be introduced to Ireland on a phased basis in the coming budgets.

It is recommended that either Parental Leave Policies be updated to inform employees of this entitlement or a separate Parent Leave Policy be created to outline the procedures to apply for same. For further advices, please email us at rhyde@purdyandco.ie .

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