One of the many challenges people have experienced during the Covid-19 crisis has been the loss of their support networks – both official supports, and the support of loved ones living in other households. This loss has been particularly acute for parents of young children, as the ability to engage with and lean on grandparents and friends was severely curtailed during the last few months.
In response to these challenges, this week I announced that the government will extend parent’s leave from two weeks to five weeks, giving an additional three weeks of leave per parent. This is will also include €245 per week in Parent’s Benefit.
We will also be extending the time during which parents can take this leave, from the first year of the child’s life to the first two years. This change will mean that the additional three weeks can be claimed by any parents of a child born after 1st November 2019. It is likely that the changes will take effect from January 2021.
I understand that this differs from what some groups had called for, but we were advised that extending Maternity Leave by the proposed 12 weeks, retrospectively, for mothers of babies born during the Covid-19 pandemic would have been complex, problematic, and could have raised constitutional concerns – ensuring long debate and slow progress on the issue.
By extending paid Parents Leave by an extra three weeks per parent and by increasing the time frame in which it can be taken, we are allowing all parents who have a baby after November 1st, 2019, to avail of extra time at home with their child.
Minister for Children, Disability, Equality and Integration
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