Wednesday, 6 February 2019
Parental Leave (Amendment) Bill 2017: Committee Stage
Senator Norris spoke extremely well about how this issue affects people on the ground. It has been my experience that people have used parental leave in day slots when it was badly needed such as when a child was sick, for a hospital appointment or whatever.
The purpose of the three amendments before the House is to ensure that where the child has passed the age of eight the parent would still qualify up the time the child reaches the age of 12. That is very important. The majority of emails I have received from people on this matter are to the effect that their child is just turning eight and that this Bill will allow them to stay in the workforce. To quote from one email, "This will allow the experience I had gained over a number of years to still be able apply in the workforce".
We have had many debates on the gender pay gap and women believing they had to drop out of the workforce and then find they had to restart their careers later in life. This Bill allows women especially to stay in the workforce for a longer period in a planned manner.
I compliment Deputies Catherine Murphy and Róisín Shortall on introducing the Bill in the Lower House. Until now, there has been all-party buy-in. The point Senator Norris made is important. We are not going to the far end of the spectrum in this regard. Moving from eight to 12 years of age is very much the middle of the spectrum in terms of what other European countries are providing in respect of parental support. I hope this is part of an incremental step to seeing a better entitlement to parental leave.
I second formally the three amendments. I urge the Minister of State to take them on board but also to deal speedily with the other amendments and, when they are reviewed, to provide Government time to take Report Stage in the Seanad. It is important we give a clear guideline to parents watching these proceedings who are hoping to see the legislation passed quickly and that we receive a commitment from the Minister of State today that he will ask the Leader of the House to provide Government time to make sure that Report Stage is taken.