Labour Bill to provide time off after early miscarriage to be debated using Govt time

Senator Marie Sherlock
19 January 2022
  • Seanad will debate Labour’s Organisation of Working Time Act (Reproductive Health Related Leave) Bill 2021 on Thursday at 1:30pm.
  • Legislation would ensure women could access up to 20 days paid leave in the case of early miscarriage.
  • Up to 10 days leave for all employees accessing other reproductive health treatments, such as IVF.

A Labour Party bill to provide time off work for women who suffer pregnancy loss will be debated using government speaking time in the Seanad on Thursday. For far too long, these personal struggles have been carried out in silence by women throughout the country. In recognition of this, government will give up its own speaking time to allow the debate of Labour’s legislation this week.

Calling on government to fast track this legislation, Labour employment spokesperson Senator Marie Sherlock said:

“For far too long, women have had to remain silent in their workplaces about the grief of pregnancy loss; or have had to use their annual leave in order to attend appointments for IVF treatments. This Bill seeks to provide women – and men – with support in the workplace, where they are struggling with fertility or other reproductive health issues.

“If enacted, Labour’s Bill would provide an entitlement to reproductive leave of up to 20 days for women who suffer an early miscarriage, and up to 10 days leave for any employee to take time off work for reproductive health reasons. It’s a measure that would advance women’s employment rights, and address the structural gender equality issues in the workplace.

“Many women – and men – are familiar with the devastation that results when a greatly desired or long-awaited pregnancy results in an early miscarriage, but women have to take annual leave to recover from the heartache and the physical effects of this experience. Many women and men have invested time, money, hopes and dreams in IVF treatment, while taking unpaid leave for extensive medical appointments and related treatments.

“Aside from the practical support that this Bill would provide, it would also represent another step towards opening up conversations around reproductive health in Ireland, and would help to encourage public awareness of reproductive health issues. More than one in five pregnancies end in miscarriage, and research carried out recently by the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation found that 60 per cent of their members surveyed had had experience of managing reproductive health-related matters during work time.

“If enacted, this legislation would represent a real change in the workplace for people in Ireland. Anybody who has been through a pregnancy loss or fertility treatment knows the enormous strain that that poses on a woman or a man. This is a workplace issue and our legislation is about affording empathy and dignity to those going through this experience and ensuring accommodation is made made for workers at this time.

“We know that this is a very private issue for workers. Many don’t want to bring it up due to the stigma surrounding this issue. We hope that by bringing this bill forward and highlighting it as an issue we can change that and empower workers throughout the country.

“Last March, Labour urged the government to follow the example of New Zealand and progress this bill without delay. This week, Labour is calling on government to fast track this vital piece of legislation to bring fairness into the workplace for all workers. It is crucially important to provide leave when it matters most and change how we think about reproductive healthcare in Ireland.”

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