Vodafone Ireland and Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) have become the latest employers to introduce paid paternity leave, following in the footsteps of drinks giant Diageo.
The move from the two multinationals comes at a time of full employment, with employers facing increasing difficulties in attracting and retaining staff.
To differentiate themselves, some firms are looking beyond offering a traditional salary to potential employees. In addition, culture is changing, with a greater emphasis being placed on shared responsibility in the home.
HPE has introduced six months’ fully paid paternity leave as part of the company’s “ongoing efforts of achieving meaningful inclusivity for everyone”.
The US-headquartered firm, which employs more than 600 staff here, said the policy extended to all family structures and anyone who was deemed a parent.
Meanwhile, Vodafone Ireland is introducing 16 weeks’ fully paid parental leave to all employees who are becoming parents.
Under the policy, any employee whose partner is having a baby, adopts a child or becomes a parent through surrogacy will have the flexibility to take four months of paid leave at any time during the first 18 months.
Staff at the telecommunications firm will also be able to phase their return from parental leave by working a 30-hour week at full pay for a further six months.
The news met with a mixed reaction from business and employee lobby groups.
David Joyce, equality and international development officer at the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, said it was “a very positive development”.
“Paid parental leave is part of a growing trend that benefits businesses, workers and society in general, enabling people to reconcile work and family life in a meaningful way,” he said.
However, the Small Firms Association was more cautious. Director Sven Spollen-Behrens said that, while it was “great” to see more parents having the option to take paid leave when their child arrives, it places a strain on companies to find replacement staff during paternity leave.
“Small businesses don’t have a HR department to administer different types of leave,” Mr Spollen-Behrens said, adding that it was “impossible” for small and medium firms to compete with multinationals in terms of wages.
Earlier this year, Guinness owner Diageo brought in 26 weeks’ paternity leave for its male employees, matching the maternity benefit.