Written Answers. - Maternity Leave.

Thursday, 10 February 2000

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 514 No. 2

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  122.  Mr. N. Ahern  Information on Noel Ahern  Zoom on Noel Ahern   asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform  Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue   the position with current regulations and level of maternity leave; the consideration, if any, being given to extending maternity leave; the situation in other EU countries; the expert advice which exists on the need for a woman to take 12 to 18 months off to develop intimacy with her child; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3878/00]

Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform (Mr. O'Donoghue): Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  The Maternity Protection Act 1994, which implements the employment rights provisions of the EU pregnant workers' directive (92/85/EEC), provides that all female employees who have notified their employer of their condition are entitled to 14 consecutive weeks' maternity leave plus four weeks' unpaid additional maternity leave. The Act also provides an entitlement to time off work for ante-natal and post-natal medical appointments and to health and safety leave in certain circumstances.

In addition to maternity leave, the Parental Leave Act 1998, provides an individual non-transferrable entitlement to both parents to 14 weeks unpaid leave from work to take care of young children. The leave must be taken before the child reaches five years of age, except in certain circumstances in the case of an adopted child. The entitlement applies to parents of children born or adopted on or after 3 June 1996.

In view of the different conditions which apply to the taking of maternity leave in EU member states, it is difficult to make comparisons. However, the position regarding the length of paid maternity leave to which there is entitlement in EU member states, based on a 1998 publication of the European Commission, is set out in the following table.

A review of the Maternity Protection Act 1994, is being undertaken by my Department, in accordance with the Government's An Action Programme for the Millennium, which provides that key priorities regarding women's rights will include the review and improvement of maternity protection legislation. It is intended to complete this review by September 2000.

Country Provisions
Austria 16 Weeks
Belgium 15 Weeks
Denmark 18 Weeks
Finland 105 Days
France 16 Weeks
26 Weeks for 3rd and subsequent children
34-46 Weeks in the event of multiple births
[512] Country Provisions
Germany 14 Weeks
Greece 16 Weeks
Ireland 14 Weeks
Italy 5 Months
Luxembourg 16-20 Weeks
The Netherlands 16 Weeks
Portugal 98 Days
Spain 16 Weeks
Sweden 14 Weeks
UK 18 Weeks

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