282. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans to introduce reforms to the parental leave regime including changes to the qualifying age of the child and to the length of the leave; if an increase in leave and in the qualifying age will apply in respect of children that have already reached eight years of age and in circumstances in which the parents have already taken current maximum parental leave; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30324/18]
Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality (Deputy David Stanton): The Programme for Partnership Government includes a commitment to increase paid parental leave during the first year of a child’s life, as research shows that parental care is of particular importance in the first year of life. To further this commitment, the Government established an interdepartmental group to consider the matter. The interdepartmental group has almost completed its work on developing a policy approach to implement the Programme commitments, and is in the process of putting the final touches to its report.
Separately, a Parental Leave (Amendment) Bill 2017, which provides for an expansion in unpaid parental leave from 18 weeks to 26 weeks, completed Report Stage in Dáil Éireann on 13 June. As the Deputy will appreciate, this is a Private Members' Bill. The Government has, however, agreed in this context with the proposal in the legislation to raise the qualifying age of the child in respect of which parental leave can be obtained from 8 years of age to 12 years of age.