Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland Assembly passes parental leave bill

Parents and newborn
Image caption Employment Minister Stephen Farry said the bill would have long-term benefits for mothers and fathers

Parents of newborn children will enjoy shared rights to maternity, or paternity, leave and pay due to a new law passed by the assembly.

Employment Minister Stephen Farry said the Work and Families Bill would allow "a better balance between workplace and home".

He said it was "an important and forward-looking bill".

The bill also includes a wide extension of the right to request flexible working.

Parents can choose to be at home together or to work at different times and share the care of their child.

The right to request flexible working, currently available to many parents and carers, will be extended to all employees who have worked for their employer for 26 weeks or more.

"I believe that the implementation of the bill will have long-term benefits for all parents, irrespective of gender," Mr Farry said.

"The bill will not in any way compromise the rights of mothers to take the full entitlement that is currently provided for in the current arrangements."

He added: "We cannot expect to successfully operate in the global marketplace if we do not make the most of the local marketplace of talent. I am satisfied that this bill meets that objective."

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