Paternity leave benefits lag maternity benefits
Our recent CIPD survey of 900 HR professionals in Ireland took a temperature check on how companies are dealing with the introduction of statutory paternity leave in 2016, what enhanced payments are on offer and how it compares to the landscape for maternity benefits. We found an interesting difference in our survey, showing that 42% of employers are giving enhanced pay during paternity leave yet two-thirds (64%) of the organisations offer enhanced maternity pay or top-up benefit during maternity leave.
Practically all respondents, provided paternity leave for the statutory minimum of two week period and only 6% provided a longer period of benefit.
In terms of pay benefits, 42% of respondents said their organisation enhanced the statutory payment with additional pay or top-up benefit. Of these, four of five organisations (78%) paid the enhanced benefit for the full 2 week leave period, while 17% provided partial top-up benefit.
As part of their reward strategy, one in two employers require employees to have a minimum service, most commonly 12 months, in order to receive the enhanced paternity top-up benefit. Overall the survey showed employers seeking to meet the needs of new parents, with a variety of additional supports in place for both new mothers and fathers.
However, when we asked comparable questions about maternity benefits, we found a different trend. The surprising element was the fact that two-thirds (64%) of the members’ companies offered enhanced maternity pay or top-up benefit during maternity leave, whereas only 42% gave enhanced pay during paternity leave.
In terms of enhanced benefit during maternity leave, among the 64% who provided enhanced pay benefit, six out of every seven (86%) provided this benefit for the full 26 weeks, while 14% provided it for a shorter period. Three-quarters provided the top-up to normal pay for the full 26 weeks of maternity leave.
More than for paternity leave, 59% of respondents reported having a service requirement in order to receive the enhanced maternity benefit, and for the majority of these (56%) this was for a period of 12 months.
Over time, we expect to see an increase in the number of companies giving enhanced paternity pay, but at the moment, there is an inequity in the way males and females are being treated in terms of the pay benefits they receive for parenting leave. This is in the opposite direction to gender pay gap where women receive less pay on average than men, and for many organisations maternity benefits have become a well-established instrument for retaining female employees.
CIPD would like to thank the 900 participants in our HR Practices in Ireland survey. The majority of respondents worked in the service sector, and one third operated in the public sector. Two thirds of the respondents work in a HR team that support employees in the Republic of Ireland only, and one third supported employees outside Ireland, reflecting the strong international dimension to HR in Ireland.