The Maternity Protection Acts provide for up to 26 weeks paid maternity leave, and a further 16 weeks unpaid leave. Where a child is born prematurely, additional weeks may be available.
There are currently no plans to extend this form of leave.
There have been a number of developments in terms of leave for working parents in recent years, notably, in 2019, the extension of parental leave up to 26 weeks for a child under 12 years and the introduction of two weeks paid Parent's Leave and Benefit for each parent in the first year of a child's life.
In order to support parents of children born during the strict lockdown measures, the Government intends to extend Parents’ Leave from two weeks to five weeks for each parent of all children born or adopted on or after 1 November 2019. The Family Leave Bill 2021 was approved by the Government on 9 March 2021. The aim is that this legislation will be enacted by the beginning of April 2021.