Dáil Éireann - Volume 638 - 26 September, 2007
Written Answers. - Legislative Programme.
Deputy David Stanton Deputy David Stanton
 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his plans to extend maternity leave for mothers of premature babies who are hospitalised after birth; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21115/07]
Deputy Brian Lenihan Deputy Brian Lenihan
Deputy Brian Lenihan:The Maternity Protection Act 1994 and the Maternity Protection (Amendment) Act 2004 provide statutory minimum entitlements in relation to maternity at work including maternity leave. If a mother starts maternity leave on or after 1 March 2007, she is entitled to 26 weeks’ maternity leave, together with 16 weeks’ additional unpaid maternity leave.
The Maternity Protection (Amendment) Act 2004 removed the compulsory requirement that women must take 4 weeks’ maternity leave prior to the birth. At present, at least 2 weeks have to be taken before the end of the week of the baby’s expected birth and at least 4 weeks after. A mother can now decide how she would like to take the remaining weeks and this can be flexible with regard to mothers of premature babies.
Under Towards 2016, the social partners and Government have committed to review the level of provision of both maternity and paternity leave before the end of 2008. This is one of a number of commitments in this agreement which are aimed at helping children and their families to experience the qualities of family life, particularly in the important first year of the life of the child. Moreover the Programme for Government contains a commitment to increase paid maternity leave by 5 weeks over the next 5 years.
Dáil Éireann 638 Written Answers. Legislative Programme.