Seanad debates

Wednesday, 6 February 2019

Parental Leave (Amendment) Bill 2017: Committee Stage


10:30 am

Photo of Jennifer Murnane O'ConnorJennifer Murnane O'Connor (Fianna Fail) | Oireachtas source

I, too, support the amendments and particularly the Bill. Increasing the unpaid leave available to parents by an additional eight weeks from 18 to 26, which can be taken up until the child is 12 years old, offers a great deal of flexibility. This week, 5,000 people signed a petition calling on the Government to support this crucial Bill to extend parental leave. I was heartened to hear last night that the Government intends to support the Bill. However, I would like it not to be left for another two years for it to be implemented. These parents need certainty. Never mind getting up early in the morning. These are working people who happen to be parents who not only get up early but often have been working through the night caring for a child with a high temperature or sitting in an accident and emergency department in a hospital following which they must then do a full day's work, and they never complain.

This is a very positive measure for working parents across the country. It is not just about support, which is very important, but also family time. It is about parents working so hard but being afraid they will not have the option to afford the option of childcare. It is about the need to make sure that in a job one loves one wants the best of both worlds. Parents want to be able to work but also to be able to spend time with their children. That is what this is all about; it is about choice. Parental leave will be beneficial for parents and their children but also for the economy and society in general by improving the framework conditions for the large percentage of women who want to work and stay home with their children.

I support this Bill 100%. That 5,000 people signed a petition this week calling on the Government to support this Bill is an indication to the Minister of State of the strength of feeling about this issue. Every Member here has heard in our clinics and in our own areas how crucial this measure will be for both men and women. I want to give my full support for the Bill.


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