More than four years after the introduction of paternity leave, the take-up level has been largely stagnant and must be addressed, according to a Fine Gael TD.
Deputy Neale Richmond is calling for a full Government review into the stagnation of the paternity leave take-up and measures to address it.
Speaking on the issue, Deputy Richmond said: “Figures released to me show that since the introduction of paternity leave in 2018, the take-up has remained largely stagnant, with 24,080 men taking it in 2018, rising to 28,191 in 2019 but falling to 24,726 in 2020.
“The introduction of paternity leave in 2018 was an important step in enshrining the right to dedicated leave to new fathers; this time is vital for both men and women.
“Four years on from its introduction, one would expect to see the take-up increase over time.
“A study into the barriers to men taking paternity leave, both financial and intangible, must be carried out.
“A major barrier to the take-up of paternity leave is the fact that employers are not obliged to top-up staff to full pay when on paternity leave, though many men do qualify for paternity benefit.
“Employers must be encouraged to top-up this pay where possible to ensure that financial decisions are not the reason behind men not taking this leave.
“The fact that paternity leave is not confined to just the father of a child is also not commonly known; the partner of the mother of the child can take paternity leave, as well as the parent of a donor-conceived child.
“For those who are affecting by the late-term loss of a baby, you are entitled to Paternity Benefit if there is a stillbirth or miscarriage after the 24th week of pregnancy.
“Time with a new baby is precious and cannot be replaced and as a father of two young kids who did avail of this leave, I would like to see more men taking up their right to paternity leave.
“Importantly, time spent on the Pandemic Unemployment Payment or Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme does not preclude you from taking up Paternity Benefit.
“An information campaign on paternity leave, the eligibility criteria as well as Government engagement encouraging employers to top-up paternity benefit where possible would go a long way in addressing this stagnant uptake.
“We should aim to reach a point where paternity leave is not viewed as optional but is taken as standard practice by men and dads across Ireland”, Deputy Richmond concluded.