As we head into the Easter Dáil recess, I was delighted this week to see the advancement of two important pieces of legislation that will help make Ireland a fairer and more equal society.
A key part of our drive for equality is to close the gender pay gap and on Wednesday, amendments to strengthen the Gender Pay Gap Information Bill were approved by Cabinet. The Bill will require employers over a certain size to publish pay differences between men and women employees, oblige Government Departments and agencies to report on their own gender pay gap and establish a stronger role in enforcement for the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission.
These measures will help to create transparency around pay and give us an accurate understanding of the gender pay gap, which will help address the root causes of the gender pay disparity between men and women. This move towards transparency has been called for by the Green Party for many years and is a priority in the Programme for Government, so I’m very proud to have made progress on this as Minister.
This week also saw the passing of the Family Leave and Miscellaneous Provisions Bill 2021. This Bill not only extends paid Parent’s Leave and Benefit by three weeks but also ends the exclusion of male same-sex couples from adoption leave, another important commitment in the Programme for Government. Families come in all shapes and sizes, and it’s vital that all parents have equal access to leave and benefits. Adoptive parents will now have much greater flexibility to decide which parent will avail of adoptive leave and benefit, allowing the other parent to avail of paternity leave.
COVID-19 has had a serious impact across society and working parents, especially those who have had children during the pandemic, often without the support of family and friends. We want to support parents in taking time away from work and having quality time with their children during those precious first two years. An important facet of parent’s leave is to encourage the sharing of childcare and I hope that this additional period of leave will support and encourage fathers in taking a more prominent role in the care of their young child.
Roderic O’Gorman TD
Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth
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