In the 2019 budget, the Government is planning on offering an additional two weeks of parental leave to new parents. This is a welcome relief to many parents who face the challenges of work and childcare costs.
Director of the National Women’s Council of Ireland, Orla O’Connor, is pleased that while the new leave is not mandatory, allowing it to be transferred between fathers and mothers will help with the “distribution of care between parents.”
This measure by the Government needs to be supported by Irish businesses in order for both parents to avail of the full leave allowance. Work environments can no longer allow parental leave to affect how much people earn or hinder professional development.
The need for a win-win scenario for parents and employers
Princeton University economist, Henrik Kleven, noted a large decline in the amount women earned after they had their first child. This is known as the “child penalty,” and over their entire careers women end up earning 20% less than men.
The 2017, Hays Ireland Gender Diversity Report found that while 55% of men maintain the same job after becoming parents, only 28% of women keep do. The study also found that men don’t take parental leave because they feel that it will have a negative impact on their finances and make them seem less committed to their job.
A work culture that encourages work-life balance for both parents is what is needed. Generally, parental leave is still viewed as something that is more for mothers, but things are beginning to shift. Dublin tech companies like Zendesk, LinkedIn and Facebook offer their male employees 2-4 months of paid paternity leave, and they expect them to take it.
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