The Government has proposed to introduce paternity leave with effect from September 2016, which will allow new fathers to take two weeks’ leave and receive a State Paternity Benefit of €230 per week subject to the father having made suitable PRSI contributions prior to the leave.
Once paternity leave becomes a statutory right, employers must treat employees taking paternity leave in the same manner as employees taking maternity leave or adoptive leave. If the employer pays an employee on maternity leave or adoptive leave their full salary during their leave, employers then should pay all employees taking paternity leave the same rate (i.e. full salary, half salary, etc.…). Failure to do so could expose the employer to potential claims of discrimination by fathers if it could be established that the only reason that he did not receive paternity leave pay was based on his gender, in the same way, it should be advisable for employers to adopt a consistent approach in regards of pay with all employees who are a taking protective leave.