Pregnancy loss report underlines the need for Labour’s reproductive leave proposal

26 January 2024
  • The report, published today recommends the introduction of policies to provide time off work following pregnancy loss before 24 weeks, among other measures.
  • In 2021, the Labour Party introduced the Organisation of Working Time (Reproductive Health Related Leave) Bill 2021 in the Seanad.
  • If passed, it would provide up to 20 days’ paid leave for employees who experience ‘early pregnancy loss’, and up to 10 day’s paid leave for employees accessing reproductive healthcare.
  • That Bill has passed all stages in the Seanad, and is at Second Stage in the Dáil.
  • On Wednesday, 24th January, Government TDs voted to delay further debate on the Bill by 12 months.

Responding to the publication of the PLACES: Pregnancy Loss (under 24 weeks) in Workplaces Report on Informing Policymakers on Support Mechanisms, which was commissioned by the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth. Labour Party Spokesperson for Workers’ Rights, Senator Marie Sherlock, has urged the government to legislate for paid time off for employees dealing with pregnancy loss, and has lamented its decision to bury the Labour Party’s bill to do so this week.

Senator Sherlock said,

“I want to commend the authors of this powerful report, which compiles international best practice in this area, and summarises the results of a survey of almost 1,000 workers on their experience of pregnancy loss. There is no denying that what has been published today provides a strong argument for the introduction of more compassionate workplace policies for those struggling with their fertility and pregnancy losses. It only adds to the courageous advocacy of those who have raised their voice to explain what a compassionate workplace would have meant for them as they suffered a pregnancy loss, or countless rounds of IVF.

“It is deeply disappointing that the government chose to bury the Labour Party’s Bill to achieve just that, earlier this week in the Dáil. What is even more frustrating for us, and the thousands of women and couples across the country who could be helped by our bill, is that the government was already in possession of this report at the time that it decided to further delay our proposal.

“Last November, this crucial bill was debated on government time and passed in the Seanad, highlighting the pressing need to address the emotional and financial burden faced by those undergoing fertility treatments and experiencing pregnancy loss. The statistics are stark – over one in six pregnancies end in early miscarriage or because of a ectopic pregnancy and one in six couples grapple with fertility challenges.

“Despite expressing support for the Bill, they have chosen to kick the can down the road. It is commonly accepted that it is unlikely this government will last another 12 months. Delaying it this long amounts to an attempt to kill the proposal.

“The government’s choice to defer addressing this critical issue suggests a lack of commitment to the wellbeing of citizens facing reproductive challenges. It is imperative that we move beyond political manoeuvring and prioritise the needs of those who have been waiting for essential support for far too long.

“Clearly, the Department of Enterprise has been influenced by lobbying groups which are opposed to new workers’ rights initiatives in general. It’s time for government to step up and lead a constructive dialogue on how we can genuinely support workers and businesses, away from the sort of intertie which further penalises people – and women workers, in particular – during some of the more vulnerable times in their lives. It is time to introduce leave when it matters most.”

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