by Anne Reilly, founder and CEO of PaycheckPlus
A new Paternity Benefit is being introduced for fathers availing of the new 2 weeks’ statutory paternity leave. It will be paid at €230 per week in respect of births from September 2016. The PRSI contribution conditions will be the same as those for Maternity Benefit (September 2016).
The bill provides for same sex couples on an equal basis with other couples. It also deals with more sensitive issues – it ensures that in the event of a stillbirth or death, the entitlement to paternity leave still continues and in the event of a parental death, the other parent inherits whatever leave has not been taken.
Parental Leave is governed by the Parental Leave Act 2013. For parents to qualify for parental leave they must have one years’ service within the Organisation. Also, they must have a child/adoptive of the following ages:
· Under 8 years of age
· An adoptive child between the ages of 6 and 8 – leave can be taken up to 2 years after the adoption order
· A child with a disability or long term illness until they’re 16 years of age.
Duration of Parental Leave
Parental Leave is allowed for a period of 18 weeks per child. Organisations should note that Employees can seek to take this Leave in three separate blocks, with 6 weeks in each block.
Organisations are obliged to permit employees to avail of parental leave when it is for a period of 6 weeks or more. However, it should be noted that for a short period such as a day a week or a week, this is at the discretion of the Organisation.
Applying for Parental Leave
Where an Employee wants to take parental leave they must submit their application 6 weeks prior to the date of commencement. Within this application both start and end dates should be included, also a copy of the child’s birth certificate should be included. The organisation will then either approve this leave, or postpone it for a time of up to four weeks.
Organisations should also ensure all documentation relating to parental leave is kept on file for a period of 8 years. Once an organisation approves leave, they must produce a document containing details of the leave arrangement. The document must be signed by both employer and employee to ensure it is binding. Organisations should further note where they identify this type of leave being abused i.e. that this leave is not being used for the purpose of looking after a child. It can be a disciplinary offense. Of course, this can be extremely difficult to determine.
Returning to Work
Once an employee returns to work the organisation is required to provide them with the same terms and conditions of employment or no less favourable. In some cases employees may request a change in working pattern to suit their child minding arrangements, the organisation is required to respond to the employees request within 4 weeks.
Proposed Changes to Parental Leave
There are currently discussions about enhancing the amount of Parental Leave within the next budget (two extra weeks to be introduced in 2017).
Let’s watch this space!