Fianna Fáil Seanad Group Leader, Senator Catherine Ardagh has said that employees’ parental leave entitlements in Ireland must be improved for families to meet the needs of their children.

A bill to extend unpaid parental leave for parents to six months will be brought to second stage in Seanad later this afternoon. The Parental Leave (Amendment) Bill increases unpaid leave from 18 weeks to 26 weeks to be taken over the lifetime of children up to the age of 12.

The Crumlin Senator said, “Parents are under pressure to balance all the demands of modern life and we welcome any measures that makes the process of raising children a little bit more manageable. By extending access to leaves of absence in order to care for their children, we can help relieve some of that pressure to lead a healthier, more balanced life.

“The extension of parental leave also has the potential to address long standing issues regarding the under-representation of women in the workforce nationwide by providing for more suitable and flexible work arrangements.

“Cross party support is crucial to ensure that this legislation is amended and that Ireland’s parental leave entitlements are brought in line with the European standard.

“Fianna Fáil will be facilitating the passing of this important bill at second stage by using our Private Members Business in the Seanad later today.”