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Government reveal they will not oppose bill to extend unpaid parental leave

The Government will consider fresh proposals to extend unpaid parental leave to 26 weeks, which could help parents juggling care for babies and workplace commitments.

Social Democrats TDs brought the Parental Leave Bill before the Dáil today, saying it would allow parents take a total of six months unpaid leave from work without their rights being affected.

The current rules allow 18 weeks unpaid leave per child aged up to eight years of age.

The Government said they would not oppose the bill and could amend it later but their preference is to increase paid parental leave, as promised under the programme for government.

Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty said she wants to increase maternity and paternity leave up to paid 12 months of total paid parental leave.

There is currently paid maternity leave of 26 weeks and paternity leave of two weeks.

Statutory paternity leave entitlements were introduced on September 1, 2016, but only about half of fathers since are taking it up.

The minister said moving towards a full year for joint paid leave could not be done over one budget.

Social Democrat co-founder Róisín Shortall said there was no substitute for paid leave but that more unpaid leave would give parents “flexibility”.

[b]* Read Juno McEnroe's full report in tomorrow's Irish Examiner[/b]