Fórsa has criticised a recent Government announcement to improve parental leave provision as the “bare minimum,” which Ireland is obliged to introduce under European law.
Parents of babies born during the pandemic are to get an extra three weeks of paternity leave under new measures.
The administration claims the change, which applies to mothers and fathers of children born after 1st November 2019, will address the challenges facing new parents in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, including absence of traditional childcare supports.
But Fórsa’s equality officer Andy Pike said the additional three weeks of parental leave would do little to help families struggling with work and life balance due to Covid-19.
“The new measure represents the very bare minimum the Government is obliged to put in place under a 2019 European Directive on work-life balance. This EU legislation obliges our Government to legislate for the additional parental leave by November,” he said.
He said the Government had passed up an opportunity to make a difference to thousands of families, who need additional support to balance work and family commitments.
And he noted that the announcement came shortly after the Government’s refusal to extend maternity leave for new mothers who have exhausted rights to statutory maternity leave and parental leave during the pandemic.
“It demonstrates that the new administration has failed to support working families who cannot access childcare. “Fórsa believes that much more meaningful steps should be taken to ensure parents who will not be able to access childcare can be supported with additional statutory leave entitlements.
“New parents with young babies who cannot access childcare are a particular concern. This measure is a bare minimum approach from the new Government, which shows a lack of imagination and a lack of leadership,” he said.
Once it comes into effect in November, the measure will mean an extra six weeks parental leave per family, paid at a rate of €245 per week.
The director of National Women’s Council of Ireland (NWCI), Orla O’Connor, agreed that the move doesn’t adequately address the needs of mothers on maternity leave during the lockdown.
She said the change had been expected, but the November commencement date meant many women will lose out.
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