And finally we have …Paternity Leave!
PATERNITY LEAVE AND BENEFIT ACT 2016
The Paternity Leave and Benefit Act 2016 commenced this month and provides a “relevant parent” with two weeks paternity leave to assist with the provision of care of a child following the birth, or adoption.
WHO IS ENTITLED TO THE BENEFIT?
The Act defines a “relevant parent” as follows:-
- the father of the child;
- the spouse, civil partner or cohabitant of the mother of the child, which includes same sex partners;
- a parent of a child who is conceived by way of a donor under Section 5 of the Children and Family Relationships Act 2015.
Where a child has been adopted a “relevant parent” is described as:-
- the spouse, civil partner, or cohabitant of the adopting mother or sole male adopter of the child;
- in circumstances where a child is adopted by a same sex married couple, the “relevant parent” is the party chosen by the couple.
PAYMENT & EMPLOYMENT PROTECTION
In order to avail of paternity leave, and payment of €230.00 per week from the Department of Social Protection, the “relevant parent” must notify their employer of their intention to take this leave at least four weeks prior to the birth of the child, or placement, in the case of adoption. The two week period of leave must be taken in one continuous block within the first 26 weeks of the birth, or adoption, of the child. Leave, however, can be postponed if the “relevant parent” is suffering an illness, or the child has been hospitalised.
A “relevant parent” is only entitled to leave, and the payment of €230.00 per week, provided their PRSI contribution requirements are met. An employer is not obliged to make any further payments to a “relevant parent” while on leave.
All employment benefit are maintained while a “relevant parent” is on leave and they are treated as if they had not been absent from work. At the expiration of the two week leave period, a “relevant parent” is entitled to return to the same position they held prior to taking leave, and with the same pay.
Employers need to ensure that they do not discriminate against a “relevant parent” if female employees are paid remuneration while on maternity leave.
With this in mind, employers should undertake a review of their policies and procedures to ensure that all employees are treated equally, and that the provisions of the Act are incorporated into company documentation and employee handbook.
The Act also places a requirement on employers to maintain a record of paternity leave taken by each employee, including the dates and times, and these records must be maintained for a period 8 years. If found guilty by the Workplace Relations Commission of failure to maintain such records, an employer could find themselves liable to a maximum fine of €4,000.00.
A “relevant parent” also cannot be terminated, or suspended, from their employment while on leave and cannot be penalised, or threatened to be penalised, for exercising their rights under the Act by taking their entitled leave.