The Paternity Leave and Benefit Act 2016 was recently enacted and will commence on 1 September 2016. It will provide long awaited statutory paternity leave and benefit for fathers. It will also bring Ireland in line with other EU countries. Up until now we have been one of the few member states without some form of leave for fathers. The leave is the first in what will be a suite of family friendly initiatives designed to encourage and promote a more equitable division of parental responsibilities in the workplace.
Announcing the introduction of paternity leave, the government also referred to the possibility of a further two weeks' shared parental leave to be introduced in the next Budget. Whether this materialises remains to be seen. Nonetheless, the introduction of paternity leave and benefit is a very welcome development. Whilst the government has taken the crucial first step, employers now need to ensure that they encourage and facilitate the take up of the leave in the workplace.
The Act mirrors to a large degree the format of the maternity, adoptive and parental leave legislation. Below are FAQs on the key provisions of the Act and tips for employers on what to do in preparation for its commencement.