City councillor wants right to time off after early miscarriage

Elena Secas
Cllr Elena Secas

LIMERICK councillor Elena Secas has called on the government to fasttrack legislation for a Labour Party bill to provide time off work for women who suffer early miscarriage.

The Bill will be debated using government speaking time in the Seanad this Thursday.

Cllr Secas says that for far too long, these personal struggles have been carried out in silence by women in Limerick and throughout the country.

“Women have had to remain silent in their workplaces about the grief of early miscarriage; or have had to use their annual leave in order to attend appointments for IVF treatments. This Bill seeks to provide women – and men – with support in the workplace, where they are struggling with fertility or other reproductive health issues,” the City East representative explained.

If enacted, Labour’s Bill would provide an entitlement to reproductive leave of up to 20 days for women who suffer an early miscarriage, and up to 10 days leave for employees to receive treatments like IVF. It’s a measure that, she believes, would advance women’s employment rights, and address the structural gender equality issues in the workplace.

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“Many women – and men – are familiar with the devastation that results when a greatly desired or long-awaited pregnancy results in an early miscarriage, but women have to take annual leave to recover from the heartache and the physical effects of this experience. Many women and men have invested time, money, hopes and dreams in IVF treatment, while taking unpaid leave for extensive medical appointments and related treatments,” Cllr Secas said.

“Aside from the practical support that this Bill would provide, it would also represent another step towards opening up conversations around reproductive health in Ireland, and would help to encourage public awareness of reproductive health issues.”

More than one in five pregnancies end in miscarriage, and research carried out recently by the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation found that 60 per cent of their members surveyed had experience of managing reproductive health-related matters during work time.

“If enacted, this legislation would represent a real change in the workplace for people in Ireland. It is crucially important to provide leave when it matters most and change how we think about reproductive healthcare in Ireland,” Cllr Secas concluded.