Tuesday, 9 April 2019

Questions (593, 594, 601)

Maureen O'Sullivan

Question:

593. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the estimated first and full-year cost of increasing paternity leave by one week. [16339/19]

View answer

Maureen O'Sullivan

Question:

594. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the estimated first and full-year cost of increasing maternity leave by one week. [16340/19]

View answer

Róisín Shortall

Question:

601. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the target start date in 2019 for the commencement of paid parental leave. [16546/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 593, 594 and 601 together.

Maternity Benefit is paid for 26 weeks at a rate of €245 per week. The 2019 Estimates for my Department provide for expenditure of approximately €256 million on Maternity Benefit. The estimated additional cost of extending the duration of maternity benefit is approximately €9.7 million for each extra week.

Paternity Leave is paid for 2 weeks and is available for any child born or adopted. The 2019 Estimates provide for expenditure of approximately €11.7 million for the paternity benefit scheme. The estimated additional cost of extending the duration of paternity benefit is approximately €5.8 million for each extra week above its current 2 week duration at the current weekly rate of €245.

There would also be additional costs for employers including substitution and public sector pay costs which would be a matter for my colleague the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform. Decisions around the extension of this benefit would have to be considered in a budgetary context.

As the Deputy will be aware, I have recently announced the introduction of a new paid parental benefit for parents which will support parents to spend additional time with their babies and provide more flexibility in managing a work life balance. This new benefit will be available to parents from November 2019 and will provide for 2 weeks paid leave to each parent of a child, age under 1 year, on parental leave from work. These 2 weeks are additional to that already available under maternity benefit and paternity benefit.

My Department along with the Department of Justice and Equality, which has lead responsibility for policy in this area, are currently finalising the Draft Heads required to implement this scheme.

I trust this clarifies the matter.