New parents are to get two weeks paid parental leave during their baby's first year, the Government has announced.
Under new plans published today, all parents in employment or self employment will be entitled to the two week scheme from November.
Parents who avail of the benefit will receive €245 per week, the same rate as the maternity and paternity benefits.
There are plans for the paid parental leave and benefit to be incrementally extended up to seven weeks over the next three years.
It's expected to benefit up to 60,000 parents a year.
The bill to introduce the measure will also enable male same-sex couples to receive adoptive leave and benefit.
Speaking about the new parental leave plans, Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty said it's hoped children will now spend more of their first year with both parents.
She observed: “Crucially this new benefit is non-transferable and is available on a ‘use it or lose it’ basis.
"This, I hope, will help to incentivise fathers to take more time off work to care for their children than has been the case up to now.
"The evidence shows that when fathers take a more significant and meaningful share in the parenting of their children the individual family benefits - and so does wider society, as by encouraging more fathers to take time off, we are in a position to challenge the existing culture regarding work and gender.”
David Stanton - Minister of State with responsibility for Equality, Immigration and Integration - added that the bill is also proposing the "final steps" needed to enable male same-sex couples to receive adoptive leave and benefit.
The Government has approved the 'priority drafting' of the legislation to allow for the new measures, with the general scheme published today.