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Care always costs : NWCI welcomes plans for new parental leave scheme

Published: Friday, April 26, 2019

The National Women’s Council of Ireland (NWCI) today welcomed the Government’s publication of its plans for a new parental scheme, and called for an incremental introduction of paid parental leave up to 26 weeks.

Jennifer McCarthy Flynn, Head of Policy at NWCI said,

“The introduction of paid parental leave for the first time in Ireland is a hugely welcome development. Paid parental leave is the norm across Europe, and is a crucial component in better supporting parents in caring for young children. The extension of unpaid parental leave by a further four weeks from September, and an additional four weeks in 2020, is also very welcome. Ireland’s family leave policies, which determine the relationship between work and family life, were for too long based on the notion that women are the primary carers for young children, and it is timely that we move away from this assumption. These changes will enable families in Ireland to better make choices with regard to balancing work and family life in way that suits their needs and that redistributes care responsibilities between women and men.”

Jennifer McCarthy Flynn continued,

“In response to recent media reports around the costs of the increase in parental leave, it is important to say that care always costs. That these costs are mainly borne by women in the home or women in badly paid care work means we can pretend that this work doesn’t come at a price. The failure of our policies to give visibility, value, and support to care work is a huge factor in economic inequality between women and men. This work is socially and economically essential, and it is time that our society places a value on it.”

Jennifer McCarthy Flynn concluded,

“The leave, in addition to 26 weeks maternity leave, two weeks paternity leave and 18 weeks of unpaid parental leave, will bring Ireland closer in line with the rest of Europe, but this is just the first step.  Currently, the take-up of parental leave in Ireland is extremely low by international standards. Introducing paid parental leave will have a positive impact, and NWCI calls on the Government to incrementally introduce paid parental leave up to 26 weeks, so that parents, mothers and fathers, will have a real option of taking care of their child during the first year."

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