I have received a lot of enquiries in recent weeks about planned changes to the rules around parental leave. Currently, parental leave of up to 18 weeks is available for each child up to the age of 8.
Last year, the Social Democrats introduced a Bill that would, if enacted, increase parental leave to 26 weeks per child and will raise the qualifying age of the child to 12. This would make a hugely positive difference for so many families. I and my colleagues in Fianna Fáil are fully supporting this Bill.
The Bill passed all stages in the Dáil in June 2018 and was introduced in the Seanad last November (during an FF private members' slot). However, the government seemed to do a u-turn before Christmas and signalled it would be opposing the Bill. When the Bill completes its journey in the Seanad, any amendments made there will need to go back to the Dáil for approval.
It is difficult to say when the Bill will become law but it could happen within weeks or a short few months unless the government seeks to obstruct it in some way. I will do everything I possibly can to support the passage of this Bill so that it can become law as quickly as possible.