To support parents of children born during the strict lockdown measures, the Government intends to extend parent's leave from two weeks to five weeks for each parent of all children born or adopted on or after 1 November 2019. The Government also intends to extend the period in which parent's leave can be taken up until that child turns two or, in the case of an adoption, two years after the adoption placement date of the child. This extension will apply to parents who may have already availed of their existing entitlements.
Heads of a Bill to effect these changes are currently being drafted in my Department and I hope to bring these to Government shortly.
The extension of parent's benefit is a matter for the Minister for Social Protection and I understand that it will take time for the relevant IT system changes to be made and that it will be April 2021 before the necessary updates can take place. However, it may be possible for parent's leave to be taken in advance of these changes and the benefit claimed retrospectively, once the legislation has been enacted, and I will ensure that parents are fully informed of their entitlements in this regard.
The extension to parent's leave and benefit follows a number of advancements in family leaves in recent years, including the introduction of parents leave and benefit in 2019 and the extension of unpaid parental leave to 26 weeks in September this year for a child under 12 years.