New bill proposes allowing parents to share maternity leave

Fianna Fáil says the proposed bill is "about maximising flexibility for parents"

New bill proposes allowing parents to share maternity leave

File photo. Picture by: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire/PA Images

Fianna Fáil is calling for parents to be allowed share maternity leave.

The party has introduced a bill in the Dáil in a bid to tackle what it describes as 'very restrictive' maternity leave rules.

Currently, mothers are entitled to 26 weeks’ maternity leave and an additional 16 weeks' unpaid leave.

Parents other than the mother of the child, meanwhile, are entitled to two weeks' paternity leave.

The new bill proposes allowing parents to share the initial maternity leave of 26 weeks in a way that 'works best for them'.

The party also argues that the bill will not create any additional cost to the Exchequer as it simply allows parents to split existing benefits.

Kildare South TD Fiona O'Louhglin, one of the bill's co-sponsors, explained: "[The current system] 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."

Her co-sponsor Lisa Chambers added: "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."

The Shared Maternity Leave and Benefit Bill will be debated in the autumn.