In the long running struggle for equality for fathers, Ireland is finally recognising that fathers actually do play a substantial part in bringing up their children. Previously the position was that only mothers were entitled to statutory maternity leave but under the new Family Leave Bill, which is currently discussed and is not yet law, fathers will be allowed to take two paid weeks paternity leave. This will be paid at the same rate as maternity benefit and can be taken at any time during the first six months following the child’s birth.
Unlike mothers, the present position is that fathers can apply for paternity leave but this could be granted or denied by their employer.
Good news for fathers?
While this appears to be good news, it should be noted that the proposal is being discussed by cabinet at the moment but I would encourage new fathers not to celebrate too quickly given that this announcement was made within a few weeks of a general election and as we know, all bets of are off in the run up to, and in the period shortly after a general election. Hopefully however this important new piece of legislation will not become the subject of political wheeling and dealing and will see its way on to the statute book.