A new bill in the Dáil could see parents share maternity leave
Fianna Fáil is supporting the bill.
A new law which would allow parents to share the mother's 26-weeks of paid maternity leave has been proposed as of Thursday afternoon.
Fianna Fáil introduced The Shared Maternity Leave and Benefit Bill to the Dáil, which is set to be debated in the autumn.
It's understood that the bill has been put forward in a bid to tackle what the party has described as "very restrictive" maternity leave rules.
Fianna Fáil TD Fiona O'Loughlin tabled the first stage of a bill which promotes "greater equality" and "allows parents to share child-rearing responsibilities."
Speaking in the Dáil on Thursday, O'Loughlin mentioned the huge disparity between maternity and paternity leave for parents.
"Fathers are entitled to just two weeks. They can only take up some of the mother's entitlement if she dies. The Bill that I move today will allow both parents of a child to share this 26-week period of paid maternity leave between them."
As it stands, mothers are entitled to 26 weeks’ maternity leave and an additional 16 weeks' unpaid leave should they so wish.
Parents other than that of the mother of the child, meanwhile, are entitled to two weeks' paternity leave.
The proposed bill will allow parents to share the initial maternity leave of 26 weeks in a way that best suits them.
Should it be enacted into law, the proposal will offer significant benefits to families, O'Loughlin claimed.
"First, employers of parents have vastly different arrangements in whether and how they support parents beyond the statutory minimum of 26 paid weeks maternity leave and the State support of €240 per week," she said.
"In some cases, it may be financially beneficial for the second parent to take the leave. Similarly, some jobs may lend themselves better to taking periods of leave."
Following its introduction at first stage on Thursday afternoon, the bill will now proceed with a second stage Dáil debate after summer recess.