315. Deputy Ciara Conway asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if she will provide an update on the progress that is being made on plans to introduce paternity leave and shared maternity leave; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [3764/15]
Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality (Deputy Aodhán Ó Ríordáin): As already announced, the Government has approved drafting of a Family Leave Bill which will consolidate into one piece of legislation the current provisions regarding maternity, adoptive, parental and carer’s leave. The Deputy will also be aware that in 2013 the Government agreed not to oppose a Private Members’ Bill introduced in Seanad Éireann by Senator Mary White, which provides for the sharing by the mother and father of the current maternity leave provision. At that time it was pointed out that while the Government supports the principle of such flexibility, significant detailed amendments will be required to the approach proposed in the PMB.
Work in ongoing on the examination of a range of options in that regard, including sharing of maternity leave and introduction of a period of paternity leave for fathers. My Department is currently engaged in consultations with relevant Government Departments and other stakeholders including employer and employee organisations. These consultations will be completed shortly and I anticipate that we will be in a position to submit precise proposals to Government before too long.