A new bill would offer workers paid leave for early miscarriages, fertility treatments and other reproductive issues.
The Labour Party Bill would see people offered up to 20 days paid leave where they suffer an early miscarriage or are seeking reproductive treatments, including IVF.
On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, Labour Senator Ivana Bacik said it will be the first bill of its kind in Ireland.
“It is the first-ever bill to provide for specific leave or time off work to provide for treatments related to pregnancy, childbirth or assisted human reproduction – IVF treatments and so – or indeed for early miscarriage,” she said.
“Your listeners may be aware that currently, where a woman miscarries any time after the 24th week of pregnancy, they are entitled to maternity leave but there is no specific leave for early miscarriage.”
She said the bill was inspired by an Irish National Teachers Organisation (INTO) survey which found that women were, “taking holiday leave or unpaid leave where they were undergoing fertility treatment or where they had suffered the trauma of an early miscarriage.”
“I think the reality is that many women simply don’t speak about these experiences,” she said.
“I think all of us will be aware through our own networks of women who have suffered early miscarriages and haven’t spoken to people about it – it is not widely known.”
Senator Bacik said the bill will be gender neutral although she added: “Obviously, it is going to have much more impact for women in the workplace.”
“I think having a bill like this in place does enable the space to open for women in particular to talk about their experiences more and for it to no longer be taboo,” she said.
“We have now come to a point, at last in 2021, where we are talking about menstruation in the Oireachtas. We have had debates on period poverty and period justice and that is great because for far too long, women’s health has been seen as a taboo or stigmatised issue.”
She said there is no evidence to suggest that increased protections for maternity can cause gender pay issues – and said there are lots of mechanisms in place to prevent them leading to further discrimination in the workplace.
“We are delighted to be able to introduce this bill today and I think it does mark an important step for women’s rights,” she said.
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