As the first anniversary of the introduction of Paternity Benefit approaches, Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty, T.D. has launched an awareness campaign to encourage new or expectant fathers to apply for the two weeks payment from her Department.

Employed and self-employed fathers with the correct PRSI contributions are entitled to receive Paternity Benefit.

Paternity Benefit is available from the Department of Social Protection to parents of children born or placed in adoption.

Nationally only 20,375 fathers have availed of paternity leave despite there being an average of 60,000 births each year, meaning that only one-third of new dads have applied.

Minister Doherty has launched a campaign to remind new fathers of their entitlements.

Since its induction, 587 Donegal dads have availed of the paternity benefit.

Currently, it is payable at a minimum rate of €235 per week for two weeks for employees and self-employed people who are on Paternity Leave from work.

It is available for up to 26 weeks after the child’s birth or adoption placement, and it is also available to same sex couples.

Pic by Orla Murray / SON Photo

Minister Doherty said: “The purpose of Paternity Benefit is to support new fathers to take time off work within the first 26 weeks following the birth of their child.

“New parents can choose to apply online for Paternity Benefit if they have a Public Services Card. Applications made online benefit from an automated decision process, where all conditions are fulfilled the person concerned will receive an award notification within seconds.

“Alternatively, anyone experiencing difficulty with making an online claim can contact my Department by e-mail and will receive a paper form.”

“I would strongly urge all eligible parents to consider applying for Paternity Benefit when they take paternity leave.  It is a precious time for new parents and the Department recognises how important this stage of family life is for parents.

To qualify for Paternity Benefit, a person must satisfy social insurance contribution conditions. The scheme is available to employees paying PRSI Class A, E or H contributions and to self-employed people paying PRSI Class S contributions.

Employees will need to give four weeks’ notice to their employer to qualify for the accompanying Paternity Leave.

Full details are available on the Department’s website;