“This government and its predecessor, have consistently supported parental leave and supports for working parents and families. In 2013, parental leave was extended from 14 to 18 weeks and in 2017, the government extended maternity leave and maternity benefit in cases of premature births. I was pleased to introduce paid paternity leave for fathers on the birth of their child for the first time in 2016. Over 51,000 fathers have applied for the scheme since its introduction. We have also recently announced the introduction of a new paid parental leave scheme, which is expected to commence from 1 November this year. This new scheme will initially provide for two weeks of paid, non-transferable leave per parent to spend with their new babies during their first year, rising to seven weeks by 2021.