An increase in unpaid parental leave comes into effect from today, with the leave increasing from 22 weeks to 26 weeks per parent per child under 12 years, or 16 where the child has a disability.

But CIPD Ireland, the umbrella body for Human Resources and learning and development, said it believes the myriad of parenting benefits may cause confusion.

CIPD said that many of the paid leaves such as maternity, paternity and parent's leave have to be taken weekly and do not allow for flexibility in how parents may take the time off. 

The organisation is calling for greater flexibility when it comes to helping families manage their work/life balance. 

It also said that greater flexibility would result in fewer negative outcomes for parents such as stress, withdrawal from the labour market, disengagement and productivity issues.

Director of CIPD Ireland Mary Connaughton said research has shown that childcare is the top employee concern for returning to the workplace. 

"Ireland has made significant changes in this area in the past couple of years. We welcome any steps to help further employee wellbeing in Irish workplaces and we know how valuable this family time can be," she added.