The Government has unveiled ‘First 5’, Ireland’s first ever cross-Departmental strategy to support babies, young children and their families. The ten-year plan will deliver:
1. A broader range of options for parents to balance working and caring
2. A new model of parenting support
3. New developments in child health, including a dedicated child health workforce
4. Reform of the Early Learning and Care (ELC) system and a new funding model
5. A package of measures to tackle early childhood poverty
In order to support children to spend more time with their parents, especially in the first year, First 5 sets out plans to develop a new parental leave scheme. This will deliver additional entitlements to existing paid leave for both fathers and mothers.
Minister Doherty said:
“I was particularly pleased to recently introduce a new parental benefit scheme which will allow both parents to access an additional two weeks leave in the first year of their child’s life. Over the coming years, it is the Government’s intention to extend this entitlement to 7 weeks per parent. This initiative allows us to respond to the vital need to support parents of young children and recognises the formative nature of the first year of a child’s life".
This leave will be in addition to the current leave arrangements in place around children for parents.
The current rate of Maternity Leave and Paternity Leave is €240 per week but following Budget 2019, this will increase to €245 per week from the week beginning 25th March 2019 and this will apply to the Parental Benefit.
The Government is intending to increase this to seven extra weeks over time. This scheme will be introduced in November 2019 after the necessary legislation is in place.
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