Proposals for a new parental leave scheme in Ireland have received a guarded welcome from the Irish Congress of Trade Unions.
"These are positive developments for working parents," said Equality Officer David Joyce. "It represents real progress even if it could have gone further. Congress will be studying the scheme to examine whether it is consistent with the proposed EU Work-Life Balance Directive. The social partners will have an important role to play in transposition and implementation and Congress looks forward to participating in those discussions.”
The scheme offers paid parental leave for each parent of a child under one, whether employed or self-employed. Initially set at two weeks, a phased increase to seven weeks will take place over the next three years. This is in addition to existing maternity, paternity and adoptive leave entitlements.
The ICTU regretted that the leave entitlement still falls short of one year, although it should still help to increase women's participation in the labour market and more involvement of fathers as carers. The ETUC was closely involved in negotiations on the Work-Life Balance Directive which includes a commitment to ‘the right of each parent to at least four months of parental leave to be taken full-time, part-time or needs-based for each child up to the age of eight years old’.