Paid parental leave will help end ‘taboo’ of dads at home

President of Ireland Michael D Higgins & Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Regina Doherty TD watch the Boyle Sports Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse, Co. Meath. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins

Government plans to give new parents two weeks’ paid parental leave are needed to help end the “taboo” of fathers staying at home to mind their child, it has been claimed.

Regina Doherty, the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection, said the changes will have broad benefits for Irish society, but at the weekend, business groups claimed the time off will put financial pressure on businesses already struggling to stay afloat.

Under plans to be confirmed today, all new parents working for companies or for themselves will, from November, be given two weeks’ paid parental leave to spend with their babies in the 12 months after they are born. The scheme is intended to help 60,000 people initially, and to be extended to as much as seven weeks’ paid parental leave over the next three years.

Critics have noted the scheme has already been widely flagged by the Government in previous months before today’s launch.

Ms Doherty told the Irish Examiner the plans are needed to ensure new parents receive help and to remove the “taboo” of fathers staying at home.

“Traditionally, caring in the home has been viewed as a female responsibility, and it isn’t just about the responsibility anymore, it’s about getting something out of it,” said Ms Doherty.

“It’s about the little baby bouncing on your knee, getting as much spending time with the daddy as spending time with the mammy, and I think our younger cohort are getting that now. We need to help people understand that spending time with the baby in the first 12 months is in the best interests of the baby, but it’s also good craic.

“We need to break down those stereotypical roles and, if more fellas do it, whether it is parental leave or paternity leave, I think that will start to remove the taboo of the traditional role of caring for babies.”

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