Oireachtas must follow New Zealand’s example and pass Reproductive Health Related Leave Bill

25 March 2021

Cllr. Alison Gilliland and Sen. Ivana Bacik launch reproductive health leave 2021

Labour Seanad Group Leader and Party Spokesperson for Children, Disability, Equality and Integration Senator Ivana Bacik has extended warm congratulations to New Zealand Labour MP, Ginny Andersen, on the success of her bill to provide for leave for employees who have suffered the tragedy of  miscarriage or still birth. Praising the unanimous support for the Bill in New Zealand’s parliament, Senator Bacik called on Irish parliamentarians to follow this lead, and enact Labour’s Reproductive Leave Bill without delay.

Senator Bacik said,

“I was delighted to wake up to the news this morning that our comrades in the Labour Party of New Zealand have been successful in introducing specific leave relating to a miscarriage or still birth. This is a win for workers, particularly women workers, and represents a key moment for building fairness and equality into the workplace. Reports from New Zealand also make it clear that the debate on this legislation has had the effect of breaking the stigma surrounding early miscarriage and other fertility issues.

“In Ireland, as in other countries, people, and women in particular, suffer in silence about their fertility struggles. We owe it to each other as a society to end this stigma. I am calling on all members of the Oireachtas to build on the momentum of New Zealand’s success, and to support our bill - the Organisation of Working Time (Reproductive Health Related Leave) Bill 2021 - to provide for reproductive health-related leave in Irish workplaces.

“Labour’s legislation would go further than the New Zealand Bill, allowing for up to 20 days paid leave in the case of early miscarriage and up to 10 days leave for employees accessing other reproductive health treatments, such as IVF. It is crucially important to provide practical recognition of the reality that, for many workers, reproductive health issues are lived every moment of every day. For too long, women who have suffered the pain of an early miscarriage are forced to return to work or take unpaid leave whilst trying to recover physically and emotionally. This is not a niche issue; as many as 14,000 women in Ireland suffer a miscarriage each year.

“Ultimately, our Bill is about equality for those who suffer an early miscarriage and those who experience the pain of a miscarriage after the 24th week of pregnancy. It does not matter when a women miscarries; hopes and dreams for your family do not begin at a set week in the pregnancy. Labour’s legislation acknowledges this and puts in place practical supports for women and families in the workplace.

“Aside from the practical support that this Bill would provide, it would also help to open up a national conversation around reproductive health and fertility in Ireland. Let’s take this opportunity and get a win for workers and for women in Ireland now.”

Link to the bill: https://www.labour.ie/assets/files/pdf/organisation_of_working_time_reproductive_health_related_leave_bill_2021.pdf