My partner and I are expecting our first child in a few months time. I know that she is entitled to maternity leave but is my employer obliged to give me additional time off work when our baby is born? Also, I would like to attend medical appointments with her. Are fathers entitled to time off work to attend such appointments?
Firstly, congratulations on your impending arrival!
Unfortunately, employers are not obliged to grant male employees special paternity leave (either paid or unpaid ) following the birth of their child. Some employers in Ireland, eg the Civil Service, grant male employees three days paid leave following the birth of their children. You should check your contract of employment to see if your employer grants you such leave and your entitlements surrounding same.
Whilst you are not automatically entitled to paid or unpaid paternity leave, you may be entitled to parental leave. Parental leave entitles a parent to take up to 14 weeks’ unpaid leave from employment in respect of each child up to eight years of age (or 16 years if a child suffers from a disability ). Both parents have an equal separate entitlement to parental leave. Generally you must have been working for your employer for at least one year to be entitled to parental leave.
With regard to medical appointments, fathers are not entitled to paid time off work for such appointments. However, expectant fathers have a once-off right to paid time off work to attend the two antenatal classes immediately prior to the birth of their child.
This column is prepared by Dolores Gacquin, solicitor. Byrne Carolan Cunningham have offices in Athlone, Moate, and Lanesborough.
A person should always contact their solicitor to obtain legal advice specific to their own situation. The above column contains general information and cannot be relied upon as legal advice.