Wednesday, 6 February 2019
Parental Leave (Amendment) Bill 2017: Committee Stage
I do not want to repeat the comments made by Senator Conway. I commend those who brought this Bill before the House. As Senator Conway said, it is a very progressive Bill. I also commend the Minister of State. From conversations with him over the past number of years, I know that he is extremely committed to anything that can help women in the workplace.He has spoken to me about it many times and I know that his heart is completely in the right place with regard to this type of legislation. I have spoken to him on numerous occasions about maternity leave for Members of the Oireachtas. He has been putting a lot of thought into it. I commend him for that. Senators might say that I would say that since he is a Fine Gael Minister of State but that is genuine and I know that he is very impressive with regard to matters such as these.
At no stage did the Government oppose this Bill. I will briefly mention a few significant measures that have been brought into place, not just recently but also when we were in government with the Labour Party. In budget 2019, we announced an €89 million increase in funding for childcare and free preschool provided under the early child care and education, ECCE, programme has been extended as of this autumn. Fine Gael and the Labour Party, when in government, extended parental leave from 14 to 18 weeks. In September 2016, we brought paternity leave legislation through the House, which provides two weeks of paid paternity leave for fathers on the birth of their child. As part of budget 2019, the Government announced the introduction of a new paid parental leave scheme which will commence later this year. It is not by accident because many of us in the party have been at the forefront in trying to bring in measures that make the work environment more equal. I welcome the Minister of State's words and believe that he is genuine. I am not sure exactly what will happen with the amendments but I am generally supportive of the Bill.