Wednesday, 13 June 2018
Parental Leave (Amendment) Bill 2017: Report and Final Stages [Private Members]
We are discussing and debating an amendment from the Minister of State which would phase in the increase in unpaid parental leave over the period from 2019 to 2022. We are opposed to the proposed phasing-in. We will vote against it when the vote is called. To briefly state why, the proposal for the increase in unpaid parental leave is a very modest proposal. The idea that it has to be phased in not over one or two years, but over several years is not acceptable to us and is not acceptable to parents. Anyone who has sounded out parents on this issue will know that reasonable people feel that this is an unreasonable proposal. The argument seems to be very much influenced by the views of some employers and some employer organisations. There are few, if any, employers in the country who would not be in a position to afford what is in reality a very modest proposal. If the Minister of State was concerned about the ability of some small businesses to afford this in the immediate short term he might bring a proposal before the House for some kind of short-term temporary subsidy. We would look at that on its merits. I personally do not think it would be necessary given the modest arrangements being put forward here. The idea of parents having to wait for their full entitlements for four years is not acceptable and we will be voting against it.