The Parental Leave (Amendment) Bill 2017, which extends the applicability and duration of parental leave, was passed by the Dáil on 13 June 2018, and is currently scheduled to come into operation later in the year, if it passes through the final legislative stages. The Parental Leave Acts 1998 and 2006 currently give parents of children aged up to eight years (or up to 16 years if the child has a disability or long-term illness) up to 18 working weeks of parental leave in respect of each child. The bill proposes to extend the parental leave entitlement to 26 weeks in respect of each child, with the additional eight weeks provided for under the legislation being made available to eligible parents who have already availed of the existing 18-week entitlement. The legislation also increases the age of the child up to which parental leave can be taken from eight years to 12 years.
With regards to potential paid parental leave being introduced, Ireland is currently one of only six EU member states that does not offer paid parental leave, and the State does not provide any benefit to employees during parental leave, as is available with other forms of statutory leave that are currently available. In this regard, it has been reported by the Irish Times that paid parental leave will be announced in this year’s budget, commencing with two weeks of paid parental leave, with further increases expected year on year.