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Question

889. Deputy Claire Kerrane asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if maternity leave for new mothers whose maternity leave is due to cease during Covid-19 will be extended; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [14746/20]

890. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if maternity leave will be extended for mothers that had babies during the Covid-19 crisis; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [14756/20]

891. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Justice and Equality her plans to provide for future funding of an extension to paid maternity leave for women affected by the Covid-19 emergency crisis; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [14771/20]

892. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the position regarding the provision of extended maternity leave; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [15125/20]

894. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Justice and Equality her plans to extend maternity benefit temporarily due to the effect of Covid-19 on the supply of crèche facilities for very young children and the social isolation faced by mothers who gave birth to a child during the Covid-19 pandemic; the cost that would be associated with an extension of the payment by three months; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [15182/20]

895. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality her views on a matter (details supplied) regarding the extension to maternity leave; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [15239/20]

896. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the position regarding the request to have maternity benefit extended; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [15853/20]

900. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if her attention has been drawn to the motion and petition on extending maternity leave and benefit. [14667/20]

902. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Justice and Equality her plans to extend maternity leave in view of Covid-19 restrictions; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [14728/20]

904. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Justice and Equality her plans to extend maternity leave provisions for women affected by the Covid-19 crisis while on leave; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [14773/20]

913. Deputy Emer Higgins asked the Minister for Justice and Equality her plans to extend maternity leave due to the impact of the Covid-19 lockdown on mothers; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [14924/20]

Answer

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Helen McEntee): I propose to take Questions Nos. 889 to 892, inclusive, 894 to 896, inclusive, 900, 902, 904 and 913 together.
As the law now stands, a mother is entitled to paid maternity leave of up to 26 weeks, and up to a further 16 weeks of unpaid leave. Two weeks must be taken before the baby is due, and at least four weeks must be taken after the birth. Any amendment to the legislation governing the provision of maternity leave, which falls under my responsibility, would require primary legislation. The provision of maternity benefit is under the remit of the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection.
In recognition of the particular challenges that mothers and parents have faced during the Covid-19 pandemic, the Government is considering a proposal to advance the extension of Parent’s Leave and Benefit to five weeks for all parents of children born after 1 November 2019, to enable every eligible parent of young children to spend additional time with their child.
At present, Parent’s Leave entitles each parent to 2 weeks’ leave during the first year of a child’s life, or in the case of adoption, within one year of the placement of the child with the family.
The Government proposal would mean that eligible parents of children born during the pandemic crisis will get an extra three weeks of Parent’s Leave to offset the impact of having a child during the strict lockdown measures. The period in which Parent’s Leave can be taken will also be extended from one year to two years. This will be considered as part of the Budget 2021 process. The support is paid at a rate of €245 per week.
Parental leave is also available which entitles parents to take unpaid leave from work to spend time looking after their children. Parents can take up to 22 weeks of parental leave for each eligible child before their 12th birthday.
The Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS) was introduced under the Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (Covid-19) Act 2020, to attempt to minimise the negative impact on the labour market through an exceptional period beginning on 26 March and scheduled to run for an initial period of 12 weeks.
On 3 June, the Government announced the TWSS would accommodate the salaries of parents returning from maternity or adoptive leave. This will be provided for by way of amendment in the Finance Bill 2020 process, and that in the meantime Revenue will implement the provision from 26 March, where applicable.