Is two weeks paternity leave enough for Irish dads?

Since Ireland brought in two weeks’ paid paternity leave in September 2016, families have been reaping the benefits of an extra pair of hands. But when we look elsewhere, it’s not difficult to notice that we offer a bit less than other countries. In fact, it looks rather paltry compared to other places. At the top of the tier for example is Iceland, allowing fathers to take 91 days of paternity leave, while Norway and Sweden allow fathers to take 70 and 60 days respectively.

It begs the question, is our two week allocation for new dads enough? Does it allow ample time for fathers to help out and bond with their new baby? While this is a huge step forward for Irish dads, it still doesn’t compare to a mother’s whopping 26 weeks’ maternity leave. Should dads be able to share those 26 weeks? Or should they get more provision of their own? And what about same-sex marriages or in the case of adoptive parents – should both partners get the opportunity to split the time or allocate it differently? Or should we just give more paternity leave full stop?

How do I get paternity leave?
  • Irish dads must have a public service card. They can procure one by making an appointment at their local welfare office. Former Minister Leo Varadkar stated that the card was “necessary for control of distribution”.
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What does paternity leave include?
  • New dads will get two weeks’ paid time off
  • They will receive €230 per week.
  • A further 18 weeks unpaid parental leave can be taken before the child turns eight years of age.

With companies like Facebook offering a full four months for new dads within the first year of their babies’ lives, we’re hoping the rest of the world will follow and start to take on these equality measures. Plus, there are some countries such as Sweden, that allow and even encourage leave to be split more evenly between the parents.  With more families taking part in shared parenting, we have to ask why there is still this traditional idea that it will always be mother who is home with the new baby, as opposed to father? True, breastfeeding is a concern, but could the leave be split when the baby is bigger and expressed milk can be given?  Is it time for Ireland to give fathers a chance at being stay-at-home-dads from an early stage or are we happy with mothers putting their careers on hold in order to have a family?

We’d love to hear from you. What did your baby-daddies do when your baby arrived? What was your plan and who eventually is going to mind the baby?