What is it?
Paternity leave gives new parents (other than the mother of the child) the right to claim two weeks’ paternity leave in respect of children born or adopted on or after 1st September 2016. It can be claimed by employees and self-employed individuals, subject to the conditions explained below.
What are the conditions?
Paternity leave must commence within the first 26 weeks of the birth/adoption of a child and the employee must give 4 weeks’ notice in writing to the employer, along with a certificate from the spouse or partner’s doctor confirming when the baby is due, or confirmation of the baby’s actual date of birth if applying for leave after the birth has occurred. There is no qualifying period for entitlement to paternity leave.
While on paternity leave, qualifying employees will avail of Paternity Benefit, at a rate of EUR230 per week, from the Department of Social Protection. Employees should apply for Paternity Benefit at least 4 weeks before the start of paternity leave. For self-employed individuals, application is 12 weeks before the start of paternity leave.
In order to qualify, they must hold a public services card and meet the qualifying PRSI conditions. An application for Paternity Benefit must be made online through MyWelfare. An individual can only access MyWelfare if he has created a MyGovID account which can be created at www.mygovid.ie. Once registered for MyGovID, the individual will have access to MyWelfare. The individual will also need to have a Public Services Card in order to claim Paternity Benefit.
Considerations for the employer
The employer might decide to top up the payment to cover the difference between the Department of Social Protection payment and the person’s normal pay.
Employers must keep records of paternity leave taken by their employees. These records must include the period of employment of each employee and the dates and times of the leave taken. Employers must keep these records for 8 years.
Other considerations for employers include updating the staff handbook and the employment contracts to specify paternity benefit policy and application process. These should include details such as how to take paternity leave (one single period of two weeks), when it can be taken (within 26 weeks of the birth of the child), how to apply for it (internal procedures and paperwork), length of service requirements for top up payments, if any; and it is also important to specify the only rights affected are the right to remuneration and superannuation. This means that time spent on paternity leave is treated as though the employee has been in employment, and this time can be used to accumulate annual leave and public holiday entitlement.
From a taxation point of view
The total amount of Paternity Benefit is liable to income tax, but is not liable to PRSI or USC. Revenue will receive details of Paternity Benefit payments directly from the Department of Social Protection. Revenue will tax Paternity Benefit by reducing the employees SRCOP by the amount of the benefit and by reducing the employee’s tax credits by 20% of the amount. Paternity Benefit shouldn’t be taxed through the payroll. Revenue will issue a revised tax credit certificate, generally on a Week 1 basis, to the employer or his agent.
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