The Paternity Leave and Benefit Act 2016

The Paternity Leave and Benefit Act 2016 was enacted in July 2016. The function of the Act is to put into practice the decision in Budget 2016 to allow for 2 weeks’ statutory paternity leave and 2 weeks of State paternity benefit of €230 per week (subject to the father having made sufficient PRSI contributions prior to taking the leave).

Under the new legislation fathers are permitted to commence the paternity leave and benefit package at any stage within the first 6 months following the birth or adoption of a child. The legislation will also apply to same sex couples on an equal basis with other couples.

The provisions apply to births and adoptions on or after 1 September 2016. The benefit will be available to both employed and self-employed fathers.

An employee must notify their employer of their intention to take paternity leave 4 weeks in advance of their intended leave. They must also provide proof of the expected date of birth of their child.

Employers, at their discretion, may top-up the State paternity benefit for the two week period of paternity leave.

Male employees are also entitled to parental leave. Parental leave entitles both parents who qualify to take a period of up to 18 weeks’ unpaid leave from employment in respect of children up to 8 years of age.

Employers are advised to review and update their employee handbook and include a paternity leave policy to ensure that they are compliant with the new legislation.

For more information on the recent changes contact Marc Fitzgibbon, Partner in our Employment Law Group.