Family Leave Bill is a step in offering help to families to balance work and family life – O’Loughlin  

Published on: 18 March 2021

Fianna Fáil Senator Fiona O’Loughlin has welcomed the Family Leave Bill saying that this legislation is a step in offering help to families to balance work and family life.  

Senator O’Loughlin commented, “This legislation extends parent’s leave and benefit from two weeks to five weeks for each parent (and/or partner or co-parent of a parent) and extends the period in which it can be taken from the first year of a child’s life to the first two years-applying to any child born after 1st November 2019.   

“This leave is non-transferable and is aimed at supporting working families with additional leave at this very busy time, but also to encourage parents to share the childcare burden and ensure that fathers also get to spend time with their child in the crucial early years. Included in these proposals are amendments to the adoptive leave legislation which will address the anomaly whereby married male same-sex couples are excluded from the leave.”  

The Senator added, “It is timely that we are discussing this having just marked International Women’s Day on Monday.  The events of COVID-19 have had a profound impact on women in Ireland, particularly in the area of work and care.   

“It has exacerbated many existing inequalities in society including inequality that disadvantages women. The assumption that the majority of childcare burden falls on the mother has held women back for too long.  We have faced a situation where our Minister for Justice has no legal access to maternity leave yet we spent last Monday telling women they can achieve their dreams if they get up, dress up and show up.  We can’t utter these platitudes once a year and then leave women to shoulder a disproportionate caring role for the other 364 days.”  

In April 2020 a CSO survey found that more women than men (21% compared to 15%) are caring for a dependent family member or friend and/or have increased childcare because of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

CSO data published in February 2021, showed 46.9% of female respondents reported low overall life satisfaction, over 10 percentage points higher than the male rate (36.2%).  

The Senator continued, “There is an urgent need to match our policy to the reality of people’s lives. Further work on developing family leave options will encourage greater sharing of the care load and assist with addressing the assumptions that women are always the primary care giver.  

“This law will also give leave to male same sex couples who previously had been excluded from this benefit.  LGBT Ireland have been vocal in calling for this amendment to be made as excluding a section of citizens is completely intolerable.   

“So I’m glad to see this finally being rectified to reflect our diverse society in Ireland 2021” concluded the Kildare Senator.