Under what circumstances is an employee entitled to receive statutory paternity rights?

The Paternity Leave and Benefit Act 2016 introduced statutory paternity leave of two weeks together with a new paternity benefit. The legislation allows new fathers to start the combined package of paternity benefit at any time within the first six months following birth or adoption of a child. The provisions apply to births and adoptions on or after September,2016.  

The legislation has not yet been enacted, but as currently drafted, an employee who is a relevant parent in relation to a child shall be entitled to two weeks’ leave from his or her employment to enable him or her to provide, or assist in the provision of, care to the child or to provide support to the relevant adopting parent or mother of the child, as the case may be, or both. Only one parent who is a relevant parent in relation to the child shall be entitled to paternity leave in respect of that child. The Department of Social Protection pays this benefit at a rate of € 230 per week which is the same as maternity benefit and the rate will be based on the same PRSI contribution requirements.

The paternity rights apply in the following situations:

(a)                in the case of a child who is, or is to be, adopted where the day of placement in respect of the child falls on or after 1 September 2016; or

(b)               in any other case, where the date of confinement in respect of the child falls on or after 1 September 2016.

A relevant parent is defined in the legislation as a person (other than the mother of the child) who is

(a)                in the case of a child who is, or is to be, adopted

(i)                 where the child is, or is to be, jointly adopted by a married couple of the same sex, the spouse chosen by that couple to be the relevant parent for the purposes of the Act, or

(ii)               in any other case, the spouse, cohabitant, civil partner or cohabitant, as the case may be of the adopting mother or sole male adopter of the child,

or

(b)               in any other case

(i)                 the father of the child,

(ii)               the spouse, civil partner or cohabitant, as the case may be, of the mother of the child, or

(iii)             a parent of the child under section 5 of the Children and Family Relationships Act 2015 where the child is a donor-conceived child within the meaning of that Act.

It is at the discretion of the employer to determine whether they will make the top- up payments to employees on paternity leave. It is also at the discretion of the employer to determine any terms and conditions which might apply to such a top up payment.

This article is for information purposes only; specific legal advice should be taken before relying on information in this article.