Parental leave is one of a range of measures that have been introduced to support parents to play a greater role in their children's early development. It recognises the additional level of care needs in younger children and children with disabilities, and supports working parents to reconcile work and family life. As both parents are entitled to an equal separate entitlement to parental leave, it also supports women's career progression by promoting greater gender-balance of caring responsibilities.
The Parental Leave (Amendment) Act 2019 introduced a significant extension to parental leave entitlements, increasing the upper age limit of the child for whom parental leave may be taken from eight years to twelve. This Government amendment aimed to introduce an approximate parity between private sector and public sector employers [where the applicable age for the taking of parental leave is 13 years].
The Deputy will appreciate that the age limits provided for in the Act is a statutory minimum, and it is at the discretion of individual employers whether they wish to extend the eligibility criteria for their employees to avail of parental leave beyond that minimum.
The Government has no plans to review the age limits on parental leave entitlements at this time.