Paternity leave in Ireland is no longer a courtesy extended at the discretion of employers following the enactment of new laws today.

Starting from today employers in Ireland can expect applications from fathers in both heterosexual or same-sex relationships for two weeks’ paternity leave following the introduction of The Paternity Leave and Benefit Act 2016.

That means that all employers should have paternity policies and procedures in place to ensure employment law compliance.

It’s important for employers to have all the answers to potential questions employees may pose by ensuring that policies and procedures on paternity leave are fully up to date and clearly communicated.

WHAT PATERNITY LEAVE LAW MEANS FOR EMPLOYERS

The facts are quite straight forward. Statutory paternity benefit will amount to €230 per week – in line with maternity leave and based on the same PRSI contribution requirements. Under the new legislation new fathers are entitled to take two weeks’ leave at any time within 26 weeks of birth.
Fathers must provide four weeks’ written notice of their intention to take paternity leave to their employer – although this may not apply in the cases of premature birth.

Employers must remember that the granting of applications for paternity leave is no longer at their discretion. The law changes have been introduced as part of the Family Leave Bill.

DO EMPLOYERS TOP-UP PATERNITY LEAVE?

Employers will have the option as with maternity benefit of ‘topping up’ the statutory paternity leave payment, in which case the payment can be made into the employer’s bank account. Topping up the statutory payment is not a legal requirement although some employers may choose to offer this benefit.

PATERNITY LEAVE IN IRELAND – QUICK TIPS FOR EMPLOYERS 

1 Terms and conditions
It is essential that employers ensure that this new legislation is outlined in the employees’ terms and conditions of employment. This should cover who is entitled to leave, when they can take the leave and the conditions for complying with legislation.

2 Communication

Communication: This is positive news for employees we would therefore advise that employers are informed of the benefits of this legislation to them.

3. Mindful of pitfall
Employers should be mindful that they do not fall foul of discrimination legislation when introducing a paternity leave policy. If an employer is considering topping up the State’s contribution then they should also review their maternity leave policy to ensure that there is no discrimination.

For further information this or any other employment law, human resources or performance management issue please get in touch today on 44(0)28 71 271882 or click here to email us.