16. Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the status of changes due to be made to parental leave; if consideration is being given to an increase in the age limit of children for whom it can be applied; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42513/18]
Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality (Deputy David Stanton): As the Deputy will be aware that as part of Budget 2019, the Government announced the introduction of a new paid parental leave scheme which will commence in late 2019. This new scheme will, initially, provide for 2 weeks of paid, non-transferable leave per parent, with a view to expanding the scheme in future years.
This new scheme delivers on the commitment in the Programme for Partnership Government to increase paid parental leave during the first year of a child’s life, as research shows that parental care is of particular importance and benefit in the first twelve months. The new scheme is the key recommendation of the report of an interdepartmental committee which was established to develop recommendations as to how the Programme for Partnership Government commitments could be best implemented. The Government is considering the report at present.
The Government has indicated, in the context of Dail Eireann's consideration of the Parental Leave (Amendment) Bill 2017, a Private Member's Bill, that it agrees with the proposal to raise the qualifying age of the child in respect of whom unpaid parental leave can be obtained from 8 years of age to 12 years of age. The Government recognises that parents may need to avail of unpaid parental leave for an older child in certain circumstances.