Reproductive Health Leave

14,000 women in Ireland endure the pain of pregnancy loss each year, and one in six couples grapple with fertility challenges. 

Unfortunately, there is no statutory leave entitlement for those who suffer early pregnancy loss (before 24 weeks) or for those who need time off work to access IVF or other fertility treatments, meaning that those affected must negotiate time off work through taking holidays or sick leave instead.

As a result, there is a growing awareness of the importance of introducing a legal entitlement to some form of reproductive health leave in the workplace. Some years ago, having worked with Councillor Alison Gilliland and the INTO on this, Labour Senators introduced a bill which would allow up to 20 days paid leave for time off work following early pregnancy loss and 10 days leave for fertility treatments like IVF. Through highlighting this issue and by legislating for a compassionate approach, we hoped to end the painful silence around reproductive health.

Our Bill was passed in the Seanad with Government support in November 2023, having been steered through by Labour Senators Marie Sherlock, Rebecca Moynihan, Annie Hoey and Mark Wall. However, this month in Dáil Éireann, following a Second Stage debate on the Bill in our Labour private members time, the Bill was delayed by Government for 12 months, when it is common knowledge that this Government is unlikely to last another year.

The government’s disappointing decision to defer addressing this critical issue suggests a lack of commitment to the well-being of citizens facing reproductive health challenges. Labour’s Reproductive Health Leave Bill would provide much-needed support during times of immense emotional and physical challenge. We are calling on Government to reconsider this approach and to prioritise the well-being of women who experience early pregnancy loss and all those who suffer with fertility issues.

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