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(File image) The bill would allocate 20 days for employees who have had miscarriages. Alamy
Reproductive Leave

Government delay bill that would provide leave to women who experience a miscarriage

The Labour Party has said the government is failing to recognise the “clear and urgent need” for the legislation,

A PROPOSAL BY the Labour Party that would see additional leave to women who experienced a miscarriage has been pushed out for twelve months by government.

The decision was made at a cabinet meeting yesterday evening where it was said that the Department of Children, Equality, Integration and Youth have completed “significant” work on the bill already, including commissioning a study on the topic.

However, the Labour Party today has said the government is failing to recognise the “clear and urgent need” for the legislation, with party leader Ivana Bacik adding that the delay reflects the belief that government “don’t care enough to resolve this”.

The legislation, the Organisation of Working Time (Reproductive Health Related Leave) Bill, would entitle 20 days paid leave to employees who have experienced a miscarriage at 28 weeks’ gestation or less. 

It also proposes that employees should be entitled to 10 days paid leave in order to receive treatment in relation to pregnancy, childbirth or assisted human reproduction – such as seeking IVF treatment.

Cabinet yesterday said that government supports the motivation behind this Bill and the 12 month delay will be used to give sufficient time for further consideration.

It also noted that a study on Pregnancy Loss (under 24 weeks) in Workplaces has already been commissioned by the Department of  Children, Equality, Integration and Youth.

Responding to the decision today, Labour Party leader Ivana Bacik said: “It’s bitterly disappointing for the over 14,000 women who experience pregnancy loss each year to see Government kick to touch Labour’s plans to provide paid time off work for women to recover from an early pregnancy loss.”

The Dublin Bay South TD noted that the government has already introduced publicly-funded IVF schemes, but her party’s bill would introduce further measures that the scheme “lacks”.

Bacik said: “For public servants, teachers, healthcare professionals, workers in customer facing roles and any job that requires set hours, it is not possible to down tools, start two hours late or disappear for appointments in the middle of the day.

“Yet that is what is required when undergoing fertility treatment.

As an employer, the Government is essentially telling these workers that they don’t care enough to resolve this.”

She also noted that other international jurisdictions, such as India and California, have introduced similar measures and that the government “should be doing right” by the teachers – who’s INTO union first raised the proposal in 2019.

Bacik added: “Unfortunately it’s clear that Government has once again opted to turn its back on working people.” 

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