Swift action needed on reproductive leave following Labour’s successful Bill in the Seanad

Senator Marie Sherlock
29 November 2023
  • Labour’s Reproductive Leave Bill needs to go before the Dáil
  • Workers’ deserve leave when it matters most

Labour’s workers’ rights spokesperson Senator Marie Sherlock, has welcomed the passing of Labour’s Reproductive Leave Bill in the Seanad tonight.

Senator Sherlock said:

“This ground-breaking Bill, initially introduced in 2021, represents a pivotal step toward recognising and addressing the critical need for paid time off during challenging circumstances. Our aim with this legislation is to offer meaningful support by granting up to 20 days of paid leave for women experiencing early miscarriage up to 24 weeks gestation and up to 10 days for workers undergoing fertility treatments.

“Reproductive health is a deeply personal issue affecting numerous individuals and families across Ireland. Since the inception of this Bill in 2021, I have been profoundly touched by the stories and experiences shared by people nationwide.

“We know the PLACES report on pregnancy loss (under 24 weeks) found there is still a level of secrecy and stigma attached to pregnancy loss, especially earlier losses of pregnancy. By providing the 20 days of paid leave for women experiencing early miscarriage would allow for a period of recovery, but also show a societal recognition of the impact of pre-viability pregnancy loss.

“Approximately 10,000 fertility cycles take place in Ireland each year and we know from the harrowing stories of women and couples going through these treatments that there is a major need for workplace flexibility and an accommodating  work environment for the protracted treatment process.  Labour’s Bill proposes 10 paid days leave for workers undergoing fertility treatments like IVF and IUI.”

Sherlock also highlighted that there is now a glaring gap with the introduction of the long awaited and much needed publicly funded IVF scheme since September as not everyone will be able to access the scheme equally. “Those who find themselves in workplaces with fixed hours and no flexibility will continue to face enormous challenges in undertaking the treatment”.

“From the PLACES research we know there is a significant gap between the needs of individuals who experience pregnancy loss and the support available to them in the workplace. There is a significant impact on the wellbeing of individuals, their physical and emotional recovery from pregnancy loss and their return to work.”

As the Bill successfully passed through the Seanad, Senator Sherlock urges the Government to prioritise its discussion in the Dáil without delay. “It is imperative that the Government acts swiftly and decisively to bring this Bill before the Dáil. The time for comprehensive support for individuals facing reproductive health challenges is now. We cannot afford to delay in providing the much-needed relief and acknowledgment to those navigating these deeply personal and often distressing experiences.”

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