President Michael Higgins signs new Bill extending parental leave into Irish law
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President Michael Higgins signs new Bill extending parental leave into Irish law

LEGISLATION to extend the period of unpaid parental leave has been signed into law by President Michael D Higgins.

The Parental Leave (Amendment) Bill 2017 allows parents of children aged under 12 to take six months' unpaid leave from their jobs.

The previous available period of permitted leave was 18 weeks (four months) - the minimum amount allowed under EU law - and applied only to parents of children aged under eight.

The new Bill was introduced by Social Democrats TD Roisin Shortall in 2017 and previously passed all stages of the Dáil and Seanad.

Initially, an extra four weeks will be added from September this year, with this period extending to the full six months (26 weeks) a year later.

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Parental leave was first introduced into Irish law in 1998 but the intake among men remains as low as 5%.

The Government has openly indicated its intention to see this statistic changed in favour of greater balance.

The Parental Leave (Amendment) Bill 2017 was officially signed by President Higgins on Wednesday and has accordingly become law.