THE DÁIL will today consider an opposition plan to give maternity leave to female TDs for the first time.
The legislation, tabled by Fianna Fáil’s Seán Ó Fearghaíl, would give female TDs equal rights to maternity leave as other female employees in Ireland.
Currently, female TDs do not enjoy the same protection as other workers – with no guaranteed time away from work while they have their children.
The lack of any formal maternity leave means female TDs often find themselves working until relatively late in their pregnancies, and returning to work not long after their child has been born – meaning they get significantly less than the 26 weeks offered to private workers.
Ó Fearghaíl’s legislation would allow a female TD for up to 18 weeks, which can be taken consecutively or in separate parts if their child is unwell – and also take an extra eight weeks of unpaid leave, which members cannot currently be forced to take.
While TDs would still receive full pay for the duration of their absence, they would not be entitled to claim any Oireachtas expenses for the duration of their absence.
The legislation does not create any provision for paternity leave, though the government is due to reform Irish labour law to reform maternity leave across all industries in line with European directives allowing parental leave to be interchanged between new parents.
Debate on the Bill will begin at 10:30am this morning; a vote on it, if one is called, will be deferred until Tuesday.