111. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the qualifying age of the child in respect of whom parental leave can be taken by public sector employees, including civil servants; his plans to change same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22203/19]
Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality (Deputy David Stanton): As the Deputy will be aware, Section 6 of the Parental Leave Act 1998 provides for unpaid parental leave for a child up to the age of eight, or 16 years of age in the case of a child with a serious illness or disability. Once enacted and commenced, the Parental Leave (Amendment) Bill 2017, will increase the qualifying age to 12 years.
I understand that generally, public servants including civil servants, may take parental leave until their child is 13 years and I can confirm that there are no plans to amend the 1998 Act to reflect this position.
The Deputy will appreciate that the age of the child provided for in the Act is a statutory minimum, and it is at the discretion of individual employers whether they wish to extend the eligibility criteria for their employees to avail of parental leave beyond that minimum.