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- Developments

- Developments

The increasing significance of work-life balance

There has been increasing legislative activity in both Ireland and the EU this year regarding the issue of “family-friendly” employment benefits.

In Ireland, draft legislation is currently under review in the Dáil, which, if enacted, would permit pregnant employees to share ordinary maternity leave with the father of the child. Existing parental leave entitlements are also subject to legislative attention with a view of extending existing leave entitlements.

In recent weeks, this topic has been the subject of increased attention as it was announced that the government looks set to introduce a measure in this year’s budget which is envisaged to provide two weeks’ paid parental leave by the State to both the mother and father of newborn children, including adoptive parents.

As of now, there have been no precise details of the proposed budgetary policy released but it has been reported that the new parental leave is to be a two-week period paid in line with existing maternity benefit of €240 per week and must be taken by employees within the first year of the infant’s life. This leave is non-transferable and must be taken by each parent or they forfeit it. The underlying aim is to equalise parental leave entitlements in order to break the status quo whereby women receive a greater entitlement to maternity leave due to the suggestion that family responsibilities should predominantly be acquired by women.

In the European Union, the Council of the EU have proposed a new directive containing proposals for paternity, parental and carers’ leave in an effort to increase work-life balance for employees. The EU envisage that by affording such family-friendly employment benefits it will increase the number of women in the labour market and decrease absence levels which will benefit Employers.

It will be interesting to see the progress of this in the upcoming months.

1st October 2018

Anne O’Connell
Fitzwilliam Hall
Fitzwilliam Place
Dublin 2

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