It is in everyone’s interest that more support is given to working parents and we must give a clear message to parents that society values what they are doing. The is a hugely talented workforce in Ireland that is often ignored as they try to juggle their family life and work life. We must show that we support working parents and we can do that by bringing in measures that support those who need it.
I welcome today’s announcement from the Minister on paid parental leave. From this November, all new parents will be able to avail of a new parental leave scheme and this will go a long way to enhancing support for parents in the workplace. The Government is estimating that up to 60,000 parents could benefit from the scheme in a full year, which shows that there are a lot of people in society who need that extra support.
At the European Parliament MEPs recently reached agreement on the Work-Life Balance Directive.
This is a great step towards a better work-life balance for all working parents and towards improving the lives of families across all EU Member States. The aim of this proposal is to improve access to work-life balance arrangements, such as leave and flexible working arrangements for parents and carers. It should boost the take-up of family-related leave by men, which will help increase female labour market participation.
There will now be new minimum standards on paternity leave, with fathers or second parents being able to take at least 10 working days of leave around the time of the birth of the child, paid at a level defined by the member state concerned. It would also extend the right to request flexible working arrangements for parents, until the child is at least eight years old, as well as for carers. Parents and carers could ask, for example, for flexible working hours or working patterns and for the right to work remotely.
The workplace can be an exciting and exhilarating place. However it can also be a challenging place. What many people will struggle with is getting their work/life balance right. We need to make sure that support is there for those who need it.