Ireland proposes the Shared Maternity Leave and Benefit Bill

Understanding and going above and beyond what is legally required for in-country compensation and benefits will give you the edge over other in-country employers when you place staff overseas.

A couple of months ago, Fianna Fáil (The Republican Party in Ireland) proposed the Shared Maternity Leave and Benefit Bill. Currently, mothers are entitled to 26 weeks of paid maternity leave followed by 16 weeks unpaid, whilst fathers can take off 2 weeks. The only flexibility in this is if the mother dies.

This new Bill seeks to equalise the time that mothers and fathers can take off work to spend with their newborns. When she proposed it, Deputy Fiona O’Loughlin said, “This will be of significant benefit to families…In 2015 48% of fathers felt that they were not doing enough caring. This Bill will facilitate greater equality insofar as it allows both parents to share rearing responsibilities”.

Will it pass?

The Bill is in the early stages, but is currently unopposed by the Government. However, in 2015 the UK implemented a similar scheme entitled ‘Shared Parental Leave’. In June 2018 research revealed that the uptake of SPL was just 1% of eligible parents. This begs the question as to whether the Shared Maternity Leave and Benefit Bill in Ireland will be deemed worthy of implementing, if it is so largely unused elsewhere.

What makes my company desirable?

We believe that the key is choice. By offering employees choice, they can make their own decisions as to what they do with their time and their leave allocation. It may transpire that they do not wish to utilize the offerings available to them, but they will undoubtedly appreciate the option being there for them. This is something to bear in mind when creating your compensation and benefits package.

Going above and beyond what is legally required and what is commonplace in similar businesses to your own is what will give you the edge over other employers. It may be that most employees opt not to take advantage of a cycle to work initiative, discounted gym membership or flexible working policy – but if they are choosing between two similar job roles of similar salaries, these are the things that will nudge them to choose your job offer over another.

Thus, perhaps the importance is not on whether or not the Shared Maternity Leave and Benefit Bill is used by the masses, but rather on whether it exists as a reassuring option for people.