Sinn Féin spokesperson on Social Protection Claire Kerrane TD has called for the extension of paid maternity leave by an additional 12 weeks for women who have had their babies during the Covid-19 pandemic and whose maternity leave is due to expire.
Responding to the announcement this evening that parent’s leave will be extended for three weeks from next year, she said that the extension of parent’s leave by three weeks was always intended to happen – as made clear during debate last year on the Parents Leave and Benefit Act. She said this does not deal with the immediate crisis facing mothers.
“Tomorrow, Sinn Féin will bring a motion to the Dáil calling for paid maternity leave to be extended from six to nine months for mothers whose maternity benefit claim expires during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“This extension is necessary because of the exceptional circumstances of the pandemic and the difficulties faced by new mothers in securing adequate childcare.
“Right now new mothers need the support of TDs and the government. Many are struggling to find suitable childcare for young babies and are deeply anxious about being forced to return to work without appropriate arrangements in place.
“Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald raised this issue in the Dáil last week, yet the government still hasn’t acted and time is running out.
“This is about fairness for families. I am calling on all TDs to do the right thing and support this motion.
“The announcement of a three week extension of parent’s benefit this evening by the Minister for Children is welcome, but this was always intended to happen next year.
“This is a reannouncement of old policy and three weeks extra leave next year does not deal with the immediacy of the issues facing workers and families who cannot access childcare right now.”