So we know that paternity leave comes into effect from 1 September 2016 but what does your organisation need to do other than understand the Paternity Leave and Benefit Act and make decisions around how your company will implement it? Find out more about the legislation in our factsheet on paternity leave.
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Creating the paternity leave policy
In preparation for the new Act, employers should put in place a paternity policy setting out the internal procedures which employees must comply with in order to take the leave. This should cover who can take the leave, when it can be taken and what is needed to comply with the legislation. It is also worth reminding eligible employees of the need to apply for a Public Services Card to be able to claim payment. We liked one company’s approach to creating a ‘New Parents’ policy, to reinforce its diversity culture. Find out how to create a paternity leave policy.
If an employer is going to top up the State payment, any conditions attached to the top-up payment should be in similar terms to an employer's maternity leave policy, for example service requirement. We do not believe it would be appropriate to have a claw-back provision relating to a top-up for this two-week period of leave, so this is a good time to review the company’s maternity leave policy too, to safeguard against any allegation of discrimination in how male or female employees taking new parents leave are treated.
Communicating to staff and getting feedback
As this is a positive development we recommend that you communicate the benefit widely to employees ensuring that they know how to access information both within the company and externally. View the Department of Social Protection's guide to Paternity Benefit.
Make sure that the leave is supported right across the organisation at all levels. Create awareness amongst managers so that they know who on their team may be eligible to apply for it, answer any questions that may arise and direct employees on where to get more information.
Getting feedback from the first few applicants and their line managers will help to improve the internal HR paternity leave process as well as removing any barriers that may be preventing take up. Early experiences could also be captured and shared amongst staff to encourage take up. It’s an opportunity for others to hear how the paternity leave has benefited them and their families, and the support given to new parents from the organisation.
Review existing policies
It’s also an opportunity for HR to review all leave and working hours policies and see where there may be scope to increase flexible options for employees to support caring responsibilities and enhance engagement and retention.