Parents and carers of young children are to get a legal right to request flexible working hours, under a new bill going to Cabinet today.
The Work Life Balance Bill will also give parents a right to five days of unpaid leave per year to look after sick children.
The bill will also extend the right to paid breastfeeding breaks from six months to two years.
Mary Connaughton, Director of HR firm CIPD Ireland, told Newstalk a legal right to care for others is a good idea.
“It will help to clarify a kind of confusing issue because sometimes some employees have that benefit and other employees don’t,” she said.
“In relation to the request for reduced hours or flexible hours, that is another positive development, but I think or concern about what the Cabinet is discussing is that both of these areas are on top of other employee entitlements and we are going to see that this is going to be confusing for both employees and employers.”
The Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman is bringing forward the bill to bring the European Union's work life balance directive into Irish law.
It will eventually also introduce paid leave for victims of domestic violence; however, that aspect will be introduced as an amendment at a later stage.
Ms Connaughton said the increased breastfeeding rights are needed.
“Currently, few women would benefit from breast feeding leave because they would be on maternity leave up to the 26 weeks,” she said.
“So, as they now return to the workplace, they will now continue their entitlement for breastfeeding breaks.
“Though it will require some employers to look at their facilities to see how they can facilitate that on site or whether they have to shorten the working day of the employees involved.”