Marita Moloney
Marita Moloney

09.47 1 Dec 2020


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Mothers should be given the option of sharing their maternity leave with their partner, according to a Fianna Fáil Senator.

Lisa Chambers is planning on introducing the legislation to provide greater flexibility to women who don't wish to spend six months away from work.

She said that while the majority of women do take the full six months of maternity leave, other new mothers who are self-employed or run a business should be catered for too.

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Under Irish law, all women who give birth who are in full-time, casual or part-time employment have the right to take 26 weeks’ maternity leave.

Speaking on Newstalk Breakfast, Senator Chambers said she is planning to bring the bill to the Seanad in the hope of providing more options to self-employed women.

She said: "The idea is to allow women to share maternity leave, if, for whatever reason, their family situation doesn't really work for them to take the full six months off.

"Where the idea came from initially is we have a lot more women than ever before running their own businesses and who are self-employed in Ireland.

"The current maternity leave set-up only caters for one type of family scenario, it caters for mum taking six months off and dad going back to work after a couple of weeks.

"I think in modern Ireland, we have a lot more women working for themselves, and taking six months off and closing your shop door or closing your business for six months isn't realistic or feasible.

"I know from talking to women who are self-employed, it just isn't a realistic prospect to shut your doors for six months because you won't have a business to come back to.

Senator Chambers added that it was a "reasonable and valid" concern that women in abusive relationships could in fact suffer from the proposed changes if their partners force them to return to work.

She said this would be taken into account before the bill is brought before the Seanad.

She added: "One of the things we're looking at is maybe ring-fencing the first three months so you cant share all of it.

"If we need to go a bit further with this, perhaps we will have legislation that is focused solely on the self-employed.

"Ultimately what we're trying to get to is a situation where both mum and dad can take a full year off with their baby.

"But in the short term, until we get the resources in the country to do that, to look after women who cannot take that leave, we think there should be at least one parent at home if we can, and if we can facilitate the partner taking the leave where the woman cant, that should improve the situation for that small number of women."

Call for mothers to have option to share maternity leave with partners

00:00:00 / 00:00:00

Newstalk Breakfast

    

Main image: File photo. Credit: PA

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