I propose to take Questions Nos. 915 and 936 together.
As the Deputy is aware, the Parental Leave (Amendment) Act 2019 amends the Parental Leave Act 1998 to:
- extend the period of unpaid parental leave from the current entitlement of 18 weeks to 22 weeks from 1st September 2019, and to 26 weeks from 1st September 2020;
- allow any parent who did not use their full entitlement to leave under the 1998 Act to claim any unused leave as long as their child is under the qualifying age; and
- increase the age of the child for which parental leave is available from 8 to 12 years.
The Deputy will recall that during the Final Stage debate on the Bill in Dáil Éireann, I gave an undertaking that the Act would be commenced no later than 19th July. I can confirm that Minister Flanagan signed the relevant commencement order on 16 July to commence the Bill from 19 July.
As the Deputy is aware, parents are required to provide their employers with six weeks notification of their intention to take parental leave under the 1998 Act. By commencing the Act from 19th July, parents are now able to comply with the notification requirements to take the four additional weeks of parental leave to be introduced from 1st September.