Wednesday, 26 February 2014
Parental Leave Bill 2013: Committee Stage
I welcome the Minister of State to the House. I too support Senator White and what she is trying to achieve in this Bill. As Senator Cullinane has said, she is looking at policy and trying to work for the betterment of children and their parents. I welcome the healthy approach the Minister of State has taken today, which shows us how the Seanad can work in a collegial way to achieve the outcomes we all want.
When it comes to Report Stage, what I will seek to ensure is that the Bill will provide for the first year of a child's life, which is critical for a child's development. We need to develop our own model, but we must ensure that parents have a choice about which parents will take the major role. We must find a way to do that. The last time I checked the figures for Sweden, some 2% of children under the age of one year were in a child care setting. The rest were being cared for by a parent or parents. In Sweden, leave is provided to both mother and father and parents are allowed to choose how to mix that leave. This also means that employers look at males and females in the relevant age category in the same way. Therefore, the Swedish model has equality ramifications which are important for society and the type of equal society we wish to have.
I support Senator White on this Bill and encourage her endeavours. Let us all work together for the same aims.