Thanks to a new paid parental benefit available for both mothers and fathers from November 1st 2019, an additional 2 weeks paid leave will be given to each parent. This must be taken within the first year of the child’s birth or adoption. This is on top of the current paid paternity benefit meaning new fathers can now claim up to 4-week paid leave from work.
This is set to increase up to 7 weeks over the next three years. The changes are to reflect the need for both parents to spend time with their child in its formative years, as well as challenging a gender culture that relies on mothers staying at home while fathers goes to work.
To qualify under the PRSI scheme you must have paid:
- At least 39 weeks PRSI contributions in the 12 months prior to the first day of your paternity leave.
- Or at least 39 weeks PRSI contributions in the previous two years.
Since its introduction on September 1st 2016, every employer in Ireland must offer new fathers two weeks’ paternity leave following the birth of a child. You can start paternity leave at any time within the first 6 months following the birth or adoption placement. PRSI contributions are based on the same as required for Maternity Benefit and you will be paid a minimum of €245 per week (a higher rate can be claimed if you have dependants). Employers can decide to top this up for employees when their salary is more.
Who can claim?
Paternity benefit can be claimed by the spouse, cohabitant or civil partner of the mother, regardless of gender or by the spouse, cohabitant or civil partner of the adopting mother or by the spouse, cohabitant or civil partner of a sole male adopter.
Provisions are also made in the legislation that Paternity Benefit can be paid to the father of the child in cases where the father is not a spouse, cohabitant or civil partner of the child’s mother.
How to apply
You should apply to your employer in writing at least 4 weeks before taking your paternity leave. You must provide your employer with proof of the expected date i.e. a certificate from your doctor confirming when your baby is due, or confirmation of the actual date of birth if you are applying for leave after the birth.
If you are adopting a child, you must provide confirmation of the date of the child’s placement.
If you are self-employed you need to apply 12 weeks in advance.
Note: Some employers will continue to pay an employee, in full, while the employee is on paternity leave. In such cases the employer will generally require the employee to have any Paternity Benefit paid to them. You should check your contract of employment to see what applies to you.
Applicants for Paternity Benefit must register for a Public Services Card (if you don’t already have one) and register with mywelfare.ie
Ireland fares reasonably well compared to other countries in the EU. In the UK, new mothers get up to a year’s leave, with 33 weeks paid at €164.80 or 90% of their average gross weekly wage – whichever is lower – plus a further 13 weeks’ leave unpaid.
Fathers get up to two weeks paternity with benefit paid at €164.80 per week, or 90% of weekly earnings – whichever is lower – and to be used within two months of the baby’s birth.
A further 18 weeks parental leave is available to both parents but is unpaid.
Norway, on the other hand, offers a lower 13-week period of maternity leave – six weeks of which are mandatory – but with 100% of earnings paid during this time.
Initial paternity leave is two weeks long but, and like neighbouring Sweden, it has a ‘Daddy Quota’ arrangement in which up to 15 weeks of paid parental leave can be taken within three years of the child being born.
In France, new mothers receive their full salary while on maternity leave either by the company they work for or the state – 16 weeks’ leave is mandatory.
Meanwhile, fathers are paid two weeks’ paternity leave, taken within four months following the birth.
Parental leave is available to both parents up until the child reaches three years old with parents who don’t work at all in this time receiving a benefit of €391 per week.
In the US, with the exception of some states introducing their own local legislation, there is no statutory entitlement to paid leave for new mothers or fathers, although they can take up to 12 weeks unpaid leave.
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