103. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if her Department has considered extending parental leave for parents of older children, for example, up to 12 years of age; and the cost of this. [40820/15]


Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality (Deputy Aodhán Ó Ríordáin): The Family Leave Act 1998 (amended) entitles both parents to eighteen weeks unpaid parental leave on the birth or adoption of a child. The leave may be taken until the child has reached the age of eight years with certain extensions permitted beyond that for adoptees and children with a disability or long-term illness. Parental leave is unpaid and unlike maternity leave does not attract a social welfare payment. The current legislation meets the requirements of the EU Directive giving effect to the revised Parental Leave Framework Agreement reached by the European social partners in 2009 and there are no plans to extend eligibility as suggested by the Deputy. I should also refer the Deputy to the announcement in the recent Budget of a new entitlement to two weeks paternity leave from work for fathers together with a social welfare payment to take effect from September 2016.