Without paid miscarriage leave women will remain disadvantaged in the workplace

Ivana Bacik TD
03 February 2023
  • Labour urges fast-tracking of its Organisation of Working Time Act (Reproductive Health Leave) Bill

Labour leader Ivana Bacik has criticised Government for failing to act on Labour’s bill to provide up to 20 days paid leave for women who experience early miscarriage.

As people across the country continue to share their stories of early pregnancy loss and fertility challenges, Deputy Bacik said there must be a safety net in the workplace that allows people a fair chance to pursue their hopes for their family.

Deputy Bacik said:

“Despite the immense progress that has been made towards greater equality for women in the workplace, many barriers remain preventing women’s full and equal participation. In particular, many women have lacked necessary support from employers when facing difficult and sensitive issues around fertility and reproductive health.

“It’s clear that neither Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil nor the Greens fully appreciate the need to provide women who experience early miscarriage with paid time off work to recover and grieve.

“Labour first published a bill to do so in March 2021, and in November 2022 we brought forward amendment’s to the Government’s own Work Life Balance Bill to provide early miscarriage leave. These amendments were disallowed.

“Reproductive health is a deeply personal issue. In Ireland, around 14,000 women will experience a miscarriage each year, and around one in six couples will experience fertility issues. Since I first published a Bill in 2021 to provide up to 20 days paid leave for women who experience early miscarriage, and up to 10 days for any worker undergoing fertility treatment, I have been deeply moved by the testimony sent to me by people across Ireland. We need to provide leave to people when they need it most.

“It beggars belief that government are choosing to disallow Labour amendments and delay our Bill to provide support for people when they need it most.

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

“Our hopes and dreams for our family do not exist outside of the hours of 9 to 5. They are with us at all times always. This needs to be acknowledged in how we approach helping people in the workplace when they need it most.

“Aside from the practical support that this Bill would provide, it would also represent a meaningful step towards opening up conversations around reproductive health in Ireland, and would help to encourage public awareness of reproductive health issues.

“Irish parliamentarians were quick to congratulate New Zealand for providing early miscarriage leave. We can provide support when it matters most at home through the speedy passage of Labour’s Organisation of Working Time (Reproductive Health Related Leave) Bill 2021.”

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