Under Irish Legislation mothers are currently entitled to 26 weeks paid maternity leave. They can also avail of a further 16 weeks (unpaid) if they wish to.

There is no obligation on mothers to avail of the full 26 weeks, however, a minimum of 2 weeks must be taken before the end of the week of the baby’s expected birth and at least 4 weeks must be taken after the birth.

On 10th July 2013 Senator Mary White published a Bill which proposes that fathers be given the opportunity to share in the maternity leave afforded to mothers.

The Legislation, entitled the ‘Parental Leave Bill 2013’, recommends that the current maternity leave system is revised to enable a woman, if she wishes, to transfer a portion of her 26 weeks leave (and associated benefits) to the father of the child.

Senator Mary White believes that “The greatest challenge facing the country is to create employment to offer hope and a potential living to the 300,000 unemployed and the young people in our schools and colleges. The only way we can create jobs is to encourage new enterprise.”

The aim of the Bill is to inspire female entrepreneurship in order to assist in the creation of jobs in Ireland – 50% of the population in Ireland is women and yet the number of Irish male early-stage entrepreneurs is approximately 2.5 times that of the female equivalent.

Senator White explained that women currently face more obstacles than men when becoming entrepreneurs and developing businesses. She hopes to minimise these obstacles in order to make the most of this untapped resource.

Typically, in this nation, women tend to be tasked with raising young children – Senator White wants to modify this by giving fathers the opportunity to share in the associated responsibilities. Allowing fathers to share in the maternity leave entitlements currently offered to women may begin to change the trend of the male-dominated entrepreneurial world going forward.

The Senator said “This flexibility in the maternal leave scheme would allow women entrepreneurs to devote more time to their enterprises.”

It appears as though the “Parental Leave Bill 2013” is just one of a number of new initiatives that is contained in the forthcoming policy paper promoting women in entrepreneurship.

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