The Social Democrats will bring before the Dáil a Bill that proposes to extend the amount of time given to parents to spend more time caring for their new born children later today.
The Parental Leave (Amendment) Bill would allow parents to take a total of 26 weeks of unpaid leave from their jobs without their employment rights being affected.
The current maximum unpaid parental leave is 18 weeks per child up to the age of eight, which is the minimum allowed in the EU.
However, while the country is allowed to go beyond this, Ireland has adopted a leave period just above the minimum number of weeks set down under EU law.
Social Democrats' co-leader Roisin Shortall said: "Working parents lead very busy lives and are under constant pressure to do the best they can for their children whilst also holding down jobs so that they can pay their bills."
"Our Bill is about giving parents the option of taking more unpaid time off work to care for their children, if that is their wish and it makes economic sense for them."
"For parents with pre-school children in particular, unpaid parental leave might be a more economical alternative to paying for formal childcare."
@socdems strongly favour paid parental leave for first 12 months of childs life. That's standard across Europe; Pgm for Govt commits to that, but no legislation yet. Our Bill is not substitute, but is addition to that. @RoisinShortall on @breakfastNT
— Social Democrats (@SocDems) February 8, 2018
She added: "Childcare costs can prove a huge barrier for women to return to the workforce – in some cases, women return simply to keep their job rather than gaining any extra income."
The Social Democrats' spokesperson on Children, Councillor Jennifer Whitmore, said: "Parents can spread the 26 weeks of unpaid leave out over the years until their children reach the age of eight."
"They can use it to cover mid-terms or school summer holidays or simply maximise time with their children in their first year. This reform is about improving work-life balance for parents, encouraging women to remain in the workforce and helping reduce childcare costs."