Paternity leave is a period of absence granted to a father after or shortly before the birth of his child, there is no statutory rights in Ireland.
CURRENT PATERNITY LEAVE ENTITLEMENTS
Currently in Irish legislation there is no statutory rights to paternity leave. The only entitlements an expectant father has is the right to attend the last two ante natal classes. There are no other rights bestowed upon fathers unless expressly stated in contracts of employment in relation to paternity leave. In addition annual leave taken following the birth of a child is also treated in the same manner as leave taken at any other time of the year and as such at the discretion of the employer.
UPCOMING LEGISLATION CHANGES
The exclusion of any entitlements under current legislation leaves Ireland lagging behind the many other European countries and it was an area addressed in Budget 2016. The government will follow through on promises made in Budget 2016 and bring forward a right for new fathers to access statutory paternity leave. This change will be introduced as part of the Family Leave Bill and from September the new entitlements will include;
- Fathers will have access to 2 weeks paid paternity leave.
- Payment will be at a rate of €230 a week (same as maternity benefit, with the same PRSI contribution requirements).
- The leave can be taken at any stage within 26 weeks of the birth of the child.
These changes mark the beginning of an ongoing national discussion on how fathers are treated in relation to the birth of their children and their employment rights. There are likely to be further developments in the coming years which bring Ireland closer to other European countries in terms of paternity entitlements.