THE number of Cork dads taking paternity leave dropped by 18% in 2018.
The statutory entitlement for new fathers allows them to spend two weeks at home with their new child. Payment for the benefit will increase by €10 to €245 from March.
Cork has the second highest uptake in the country, however, numbers fell by 679 last year from the 3,783 in 2017 who took the leave.
The most popular months for dads taking time off were May (335) and November (334).
Numbers across the country also fell by more than 5,000 from 29,702 in 2017 to 24,080 last year.
The scheme has been criticised in some quarters as it is entirely at the discretion of employers to top up their employee’s pay in line with normal salary levels, potentially leading to many fathers avoiding the scheme.
Ireland is one of only six countries in the EU where employers are not required to top up payments to bring applicants up to their normal level of pay during their paternity leave.
However, Minister for Social Protection Regina Doherty said she is happy with the scheme’s success.
“I am delighted that the relatively recent paternity leave is proving so popular. This is not just good for dads but improves the quality of life for all the family. I would encourage working parents, both employees and self-employed, who are expecting or adopting a new baby, to avail of their PRSI and to take paternity leave,” said Ms Doherty
“This is just one of the supports that this Government has introduced for parents of young children.
“The first 12 months of life are incredibly formative for a child and the benefit of allowing parents greater time with a new baby will be beneficial to individual children, families and society as a whole. I am particularly happy that, with both paternal leave and this new parental leave scheme, we are creating more opportunities for fathers to have the time to spend with their new arrivals as this greatly benefits both child and parent,” she added.