Latest press release from Social Democrat Councillor Jennifer Whitmore, issued on Tuesday, May 14th 2019…
The parents of nearly 30,000 Wicklow children could benefit from extensions to unpaid parental leave under a Social Democrats private members bill which is scheduled to pass through the Oireachtas today.
The Parental Leave (Amendment) Bill 2017 finishes up in the Dáil today, Tuesday 14thth May, and will come into force on 1st September 2019.
The Bill allows parents of children under 12 years old to take a total of six months (26 weeks) unpaid leave from their jobs without their employment rights being affected. This is an increase on the current maximum of four months (18 weeks) of unpaid parental leave per child – the minimum allowable under EU law. The Bill also increases the age of a qualifying child from current 8 years old to 12. The government and all opposition parties have shown their support for the Bill, which has attracted considerable interest from working parents.
The Social Democrats’ Spokesperson on Children, Greystones Councillor Jennifer Whitmore, said, “From 1st September, the extended unpaid work leave provided for in our Bill will become a potential option for parents of up to 817,000 children aged up to 12 years old in up to 477,000 families. This includes the parents of over 28,000 children under the age of 12 that live in Wicklow. Whilst canvassing for the local elections, and talking to parents on the doors, it is obvious what a significant issue this is for Wicklow families.
“There is huge demand for more flexibility when it comes to juggling work and family obligations. This Bill is an important extension of entitlement to unpaid leave that will give more parents more flexibility to strike a better work-life balance. The additional flexibility will help take some pressure off working parents, who can use the extra leave to, say, work a four-day week for part of the year, or take more time off during school holidays when their children are at home.
“The additional leave that will become available from next September will give working parents that bit more flexibility around their work schedules. That could make the difference between mothers staying in their jobs or quitting out of exhaustion and stress. For employers who are keen to retain women workers, our proposals offer increased flexibility around work schedules, encouraging women to remain in the workforce and helping to reduce childcare costs. I am incredibly proud to have worked on this Bill with party co-leader Róisín Shortall TD.
“It has been a long time going through the legislative process and I’m delighted that hard-pressed families will now be able to avail of the leave that they need to achieve a bit more balance in their busy lives.”