Deputy Seán Haughey asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if she will extend maternity leave for mothers in view of the difficulties they experienced due to Covid-19; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12871/20]
273. Deputy Matt Carthy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if consideration will be given to an additional twelve weeks maternity leave for those that have been on such leave during the Covid-19 restrictions; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13440/20]
275. Deputy Patricia Ryan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality when maternity leave will be extended by three months. [13719/20]
289. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if she will review the need to extend maternity benefit; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12948/20]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Helen McEntee): I propose to take Questions Nos. 269, 273, 275 and 289 together.
I am conscious of demands on parents at this time and hope that the additional measures to support working parents that we have introduced in recent years, including the new parent’s leave scheme and an extension of parental leave, are helping to ease some of these demands.
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.
It should be noted too that, in addition to maternity leave, each parent may also avail of two weeks of parent’s leave during the first year of a child’s life and may qualify for parent’s benefit during this period. 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.
Consideration is being given currently to all issues.
On 29 May the Minister for Finance announced changes to the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme to accommodate the salaries of parents returning from maternity or adoptive leave. The changes are aimed at individuals who may not have been on the payroll of their employer on 29 February, or been paid in either January or February 2020 and will allow for consistent treatment with other employees. The amendment will be legislated for later in the year as part of the usual Finance Bill 2020 process, but in the interim Revenue has agreed to provide a facility to accommodate such cases. Although expected to be implemented on the 12th June, Revenue launched a new process on Monday 8th June which allows employers to include employees returning to employment after a period of paternity, parental or related unpaid leave or were in receipt of Health and Safety Benefit, Parent’s Benefit or Illness Benefit paid by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection (DEASP). Employers who wish to access the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme on behalf of eligible employees covered by these changes can do so by completing a short form available for download via MyEnquiries in Revenue’s Online Service (ROS). The relevant details that employers will need to provide to Revenue include current contractual gross pay, pay frequency, normal PRSI class, type of leave the returning employee availed of and the date of return to work. Any retrospective subsidy payments due to impacted employees will be processed by Revenue in due course. This retrospection will apply from 26 March 2020, the date of return to employment or the date the employer was registered for the scheme, whichever is the latest.