5 Pregnancy, maternity, and leave related to work-life balance for workers
(Directive 92/85, relevant provisions of Direct ives 2006/54, 2010/18 and
5.1 General (legal) context
5.1.1 Surveys and reports on the practical difficulties linked to work -life balance
In Ireland, there is an annual birth rate of some 60 000 babies per annum. Figures released
from the Department of Social Protection and Employment state that since the introduction
of paternity leave (two weeks) and benefit in September 2016, some 55 652 fathers have
taken paternity leave.119 In 2018, only 40 % of fathers took such leave, i.e. 24 080 fathers.
The Department of Children and Youth Affairs announced the National Childcare Scheme
in the Budget 2017 with the first payments made under the Scheme from November 2019.
The Scheme provides various allowances for parents (working or otherwise) bas ed on
income.120 The Scheme provided the first statutory support for childcare in Ireland.
Childcare in Ireland is expensive and the cost o f childcare is not tax deductible. The Child
and Family Agency provides access to research in respect of childcare and related
A second issue is that only maternity leave is paid for by the State; some employers may
‘top-up’ the maternity leave pay to the moth er’s full remuneration. Additional maternity
leave and parental leave 122 are unpaid, so man y parents cannot afford such leave. There
has been criticism to the effect that mothers and parents cannot afford to take such
5.1.2 Other issues
Maternity leave of 26 weeks plus additional maternity leave of 16 weeks is lengthy and in
addition, an employee is entitled to parental leave of 18 weeks. Such periods of leave total
60 weeks (if the mother takes parental leave at the same time). In a fast-moving
technological workplace, t here may be a re-organisation within that period resulting in a
change of ‘job’ or a potential redundancy situation. The employee may be offered suitable
alternative employment but nonetheless, the employee may have difficulty accepting such
new role and may resign from their employment and claim constru ctive dismissal.
5.1.3 Overview of national acts on work-life balance issues
The legislation concerning ‘family leave’, namely the Maternity P rotection Acts 1994 and
2004, the Adoptive Leave Act s 1995 and 2005, the Parental Leave Act s 1998 and 2006,
118 See Masselot, A., Family leave: enforcement of the protection against dismissal and unfavourable treatment
(2018) European network of legal experts in gender equality and non-discrimination, available at:
dismissal-and-unfavourable-treatment-pdf-962-kb and McColgan, A., Measures to address the challenges of
work-life balance in the EU Member States, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway (2015) European network of
legal experts in gender equality and non-discrimination, available at:
119 Paternity leave is available to same-sex natural and adoptive parents.
121 https://www.tusla.ie/research/statistics-and-surveys/. The Child and Family Agency is known as Tusla.
122 In April 2019, the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection has announced that there are to be
extensions to statutory parental leave with payment at the same rate as maternity pay to be extended over
a number of years. http://www.welfare.ie/en/pressoffice/Pages/PR230419.aspx. As regards family issues
and research, most of the research is over 10 years old and various pieces of legislation have been enacted
since, e.g. see http://www.welfare.ie/en/Pages/Balancing-Work-and-Family-Life.aspx.
123 The National Women’s Council has noted that Ireland is the bottom of the league in respect of pay for