Fianna Fáil has today introduced a Bill in the Dáil which will allow parents to share maternity leave.  It’s hoped the legislation will give parents the flexibility to decide how to make their maternity leave work best for them.

TD for Kildare South Fiona O’Loughlin and TD for Mayo Lisa Chambers have sponsored the Shared Maternity Leave and Benefit Bill 2018.

Deputy O’Loughlin explained, “The current maternity leave mechanism is very restrictive, entitling mothers to the full 26 weeks of paid leave, while fathers are only permitted to two weeks paternity leave.  This leaves no scope for the father to extend his leave unless he takes it out of his annual leave allocation.

“In some cases, it may make more sense for parents to split the maternity leave more evenly.  Some companies may allow for more generous maternity leave arrangements than others, in which case, it may be more financially beneficial for the father to take the leave.  Similarly, certain jobs may lend themselves better to taking periods of leave, and it cases where one of the parents is self-employed, it may make more sense for the other to take the bulk of the maternity leave”.

Deputy Chambers added, “Our Bill allows both parents of a child to share this 26 week period of paid maternity leave between them. It won’t place any additional cost on the Exchequer as it does not extend the current timeframe that already exists.  It also won’t affect the two shared weeks of paternity leave that are already in place.

“This legislation is about maximising flexibility for parents.  They are the best judges of what works best for them and their baby.  It also allows for greater involvement by both parents in their children’s lives, while facilitating greater gender equality.

“We look forward to debating this Bill in the autumn, where hopefully it will secure all party support”.