Guinness will be giving 26 weeks off with full pay to new fathers, to match their current maternity benefit.
This is to align with the five-year strategy of Ireland’s Children’s Minister's Katherine Zappone for young families. In May 2019, the Irish Government unveiled ‘First 5’, a strategy for early childhood. It promises parents entitlement to seven weeks of paid leave, potentially allowing 14 weeks of parental care in their first year, by 2021. Furthermore, the plan will give parents of all children up to the age of 12 are entitled to 26 weeks of unpaid parental leave. Additionally, mothers will also be allowed breastfeeding breaks for up to 104 weeks following the birth of their child.
Efforts to make employee life more appealing, are in response to Ireland entering an era of full employment; unemployment rates are the lowest they have been in 14 years. Therefore, employers are offering increased work-life balance in an effort to appeal to talent.
In terms of gender equality, the implications of this could be significant. If other companies follow suit, could we enter an era of equal distribution of childcare?
Equal parental leave allows for more gender diversity at higher levels; without childcare being largely reliant on mothers, women will have the ability to develop their careers at an equal pace to men, in turn, this could address gender pay gaps. This will also benefit the economy; a 2018 Future of Work report found that companies in the 25th percentile for gender diversity on their executive teams were 21% more likely to experience above-average profits in 2018.
Not only does equal childcare aid the parents in gender equality, but the children benefiting from this plan will develop a shared home and work mindset. Could this create a generation who debunk gender norms that are still prevalent in society today?
The higher expectations of work-life balance by employees create better working conditions for all and have been found to improve productivity in the workplace. Will this plan be the first of many in Ireland and the EU to create a better quality of life for the workforce?