Paternity leave plans fall short

The Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) has reacted coolly to Government plans to let new mums allocate two weeks of their maternity leave to dads. The union federation says there should be an additional two weeks leave for fathers instead, with no change to mothers’ existing 26-week entitlement.

The Government has said it will consult on the proposals, which are also opposed by employers’ body IBEC for very different reasons. IBEC simply says it will cost employers too much to let dads spend a couple of weeks with their new-born children.

ICTU also says the proposals would inevitably force mums and dads to take parental leave at different times, which takes away much of the value of spending time together with a new family member.

Limited as it now is, most paternity leave is taken along with the mother around the time of a baby’s birth. Unions are also concerned that the proposal could lead to employers putting pressure on new mums to take less maternity leave, regardless of whether or not they wanted to.