Government inaction is shameful and discriminatory for mothers returning to work

12 May 2020

Mothers returning to their employment are being failed by a loophole in the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS) said Labour Senator Marie Sherlock.

Senator Sherlock said:

“It beggars belief that the Government continues to discriminate against women returning to work after their maternity leave in the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme. It is nearly three weeks since the National Women’s Council of Ireland and Trade Unions pointed out this anomaly. Yet to date, this plea has fallen on deaf ears. The Minister for Finance must act immediately.

“Pregnancy and the period of maternity leave is a protected status under national and EU legislation, and our equality acts explicitly prohibit discrimination and dismissal on the grounds of pregnancy.

“At the moment if you are a woman returning to work, and you were only in receipt of maternity benefit with no top up, and your employer is reliant on the TWSS, you are not eligible for that scheme. The only viable option left to the employer is to put her on lay-off. This is blatant discrimination.

“Government inaction is all the more shameful as this anomaly disproportionately affects those in lower paid and less secure employment. On average those mothers whose maternity benefit is topped up by their employer tend to be higher paid and have more secure employment. They are eligible for the TWSS as they were on the payroll for the necessary period.

“In contrast, those whose maternity leave was not topped up were not on the payroll and have now fallen victim to the TWSS loophole. On average, these mothers tend to be lower paid and in less secure employment.

“Every year over 20,000 women receive maternity benefit in Ireland. We have to ask why are women being discriminated against in such a way? Women should be able to return to work and be treated like every other worker.”

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