Parents will be able to take a full year of parental leave by 2021

Parents will be allowed to remain at home with their newborn for up to a year.

According to the Irish Independent, the government announced plans to extended current parental benefit policies, adding another seven weeks of paid leave by 2021.

As of now, mums are guaranteed 26 weeks paid maternity leave and 16 weeks unpaid, while fathers are only given two weeks paid paternity leave.

But with this new plan in place, combined with current maternity and paternity benefits and annual leave, parents will have enough time off for one of them to be home full-time for the year.

The State will pay an allowance of €245 per week during this allotted time.

The extension was made in an effort to not only give father’s more time with their children but to help alleviate the current childcare crisis.

Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty said: “The evidence shows that when fathers take a more significant and meaningful share in the parenting of their children, the individual family benefits, and so does wider society.”

The additional leave is said to be part of the government’s ‘First 5’ strategy - a plan to widen childcare options for children aged five or under.

Currently, the government has hired a group of experts to develop a new public funding model for childcare and early years learning as part of ‘First 5’, said Children's Minister Katherine Zappone.

The State aims to increase subsidies to families and regulate childcare operators wages so that they will only be able to enact modest price hikes.

The minister ensured that they will only be "paid according to their qualifications". 

Health Minister Simon Harris has promised to create a dedicated child health workforce as well, supplying new parents in hospitals with a “baby box” with clothes and books.

The program will also expand and enhance the National Healthy Childhood Programme, encouraging greater involvement from public health nurses.