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Pregnancy

Women with cancer will be able to defer maternity leave under new legislation

The Irish Cancer Society has welcomed the news.

WOMEN WITH CANCER will be able to defer their maternity leave under new legislation.

Speaking at the Green Party conference in Cork today, Minister Roderic O’Gorman said he will be working on the new legislation “over the next number of months”.

The legislation would allow women who have cancer or other serious illnesses to avail of the full period of their maternity leave once their treatment ends.

It is understood that a Bill on the issue will be brought before Cabinet prior to Christmas.

The Irish Cancer Society, who has been campaigning for such legislation, welcomed today’s announcement.

Averil Power, CEO of the ICS, said: “Every week, a woman somewhere in Ireland is diagnosed with cancer while pregnant or with a young baby.

“As a result, they are separated from their little ones while in hospital and are often too sick to care for them when they are at home.

“Right now, they cannot defer their maternity leave until their treatment ends.

So when their maternity leave runs out, they go back to work and never get back the vital bonding time they missed when they were sick.

Power noted that men can defer paternity leave if they get sick, but “women do not have the same right at present”.

She said the ICS’s Leave Our Leave campaign “highlighted the distressing impact this is having on women and their babies”.

O’Gorman said he will work with the ICS while drafting the legislation.

The Maternity Protection Act 2004 stipulates that anyone who is diagnosed with cancer or any other serious illness during pregnancy must use their maternity leave to cover their treatment.

Maternity leave can currently only be postponed if a child is hospitalised, Power noted.

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