The government introduced a statutory right to paternity leave in September 2016. Under the Paternity Leave and Benefit Act 2016, eligible working parents are entitled to take two weeks’ paternity leave from their employment at any time within 6 months of the birth or adoption.
Like maternity leave when it comes to payment during paternity leave, Ireland’s employers have no obligation to pay employees during paternity leave. Paternity leave comes with an associated state benefit that the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection (DEASP) pays.
Paternity leave paperwork
From the employer’s point of view, you will need to certify that your employee is taking paternity leave to allow the employee to claim the state paternity benefit.
Once your employee informs you that s/he intends to take paternity leave, you should ask them to provide a certificate from their spouse/partner’s doctor confirming either when the baby is due or when the baby was born. In the case of adoption the employee must produce the certificate of placement.
Once you receive this certificate, there is a paternity leave form for employers to fill out. The DEASP provides the form PB2.
Reason for the introduction of paternity leave
The introduction of paternity leave policies is a relatively recent employment law trend. The question of whether should men get paternity leave from work has been firmly answered in the positive by employers and employees.
Recent changes in paternity leave reflect societal changes. As more men take a more active role in child-rearing and more women stay in the world of work, the need for a more equal distribution of family-friendly leave entitlements is very apparent.
Indeed many larger employers have moved to equalise their maternity and paternity leave policies.
The government is also likely to come under pressure to follow the lead of the large corporate employers by legislating to increase paternity leave or provide a greater minimum paternity leave entitlement.
Paternity leave conditions
As the entitlement to paternity leave is a relatively recent state benefit, both employers and employees tend to have questions around it such as, when does paternity leave start and how long is paternity leave in Ireland?
The quick answer is that paternity leave can start at any time within six months of the birth or adoption of the child and that Ireland’s statutory paternity leave is two weeks long.
But from an employer’s point of view, the best way to handle these questions is to develop a paternity leave policy.
Your policy should set out how employees fulfil the paternity leave requirements they need to meet to claim the state benefit and to comply with your own operational requirements.
For instance to comply with the requirements to claim the statutory entitlement to paternity leave and benefit your employees must notify you of their intention to take paternity leave no later than four weeks before the date the leave starts.
Likewise, to ensure they receive the state benefit the employee should apply to the DEASP at least four weeks before the date their paternity leave commences.
State paternity leave lasts for two weeks and must be taken consecutively in one block. The accompanying state benefit is currently paid at a rate of €245 per week.
Employees must have made a certain number of PRSI contributions in the previous 12 months to qualify for the state paternity leave payment. The DEASP will confirm their eligibility when they apply for paternity leave.