Reproductive Health Related Matters

The INTO Equality Committee undertook research into members experiences of managing reproductive health related matters during work time. A total of 2,271 responses were received:

  • 92% of respondents were female
  • Respondents came from across all counties with 26% from Dublin
  • 40% had never physically experienced a reproductive health related issue but of these 20% had supported a spouse/partner with an issue
  • 60% (1,311 respondents) indicated that they had experienced an issue. All these were female and came from across all counties. Read the research from the report.

Motion to 2019 Congress

The following motion (181) calling for a Reproductive Health Related Leave Scheme for Teachers was passed an annual Congress in Galway.
That Congress acknowledges the work done to date by the Equality Committee to gather evidence of members’ reproductive health related issues as they interact with their work and their current leave entitlements. Congress therefore calls on the CEC to

  1. evaluate the evidence of members’ reproductive health issues as they interact with their work and their current leave entitlements.
  2. investigate best practice in other jurisdictions
  3. draft a Statutory Leave for Reproductive Health Related Matters Scheme for Teachers proposal that would include miscarriage or threatened miscarriage regardless of term, ectopic pregnancy, fertility screening, fertility treatment and other reproductive health related matters
  4. seek support from other unions and reproductive health related organisations and bodies for such a scheme
  5. open negotiations with the relevant government department to realise the Statutory Leave for Reproductive Health Related Matters Scheme for Teachers
  6. report to Congress 2020 on progress made to realise this Congress resolution

Organisation of Working Time (Reproductive Health Related Leave) Bill 2021

Following on from the Equality Committee research, the INTO worked with Labour to inform and draft the Organisation of Working Time (Reproductive Health Related Leave) Bill 2021. The proposed amendment provided for a period of 20 days paid leave from work following an early miscarriage and a period of up to ten days paid leave for other reproductive healthcare treatments under the care of a medical professional, for example IVF treatment. It also detailed the need to provide an employer with notice when taking the leave and the protection of all employment rights for those taking the leave.

The provisions in the Bill ensured a clear category of paid leave and removed the need for teachers and all workers to use sick leave or annual leave for their reproductive health leave matters.

After 28 months of trying to get this legislation through the Seanad, the bill concluded final stages on 29 November 2023 commanding cross party support, and marking an important moment in the campaign for reproductive health leave.

The Bill was due to be debated before the Dáil on Thursday 18 January 2024 when disappointingly the cabinet agreed to a timed amendment to the Bill allowing it to be read a second time in 12 months’ time. The INTO encouraged members to email their local representatives to convey their disappointment, and released a press release on the same day denouncing the delay

The Department of Children, Equality, Integration and Youth have since published a substantial research study on Pregnancy Loss (under 24 weeks) in Workplaces which is available HERE.

The report makes a series of recommendations regarding support for employees who have experienced a miscarriage including calls for a statutory right to paid leave for pre-viability pregnancy loss, regardless of the gestational stage or the reason for the loss supporting this union’s call. The survey was shared widely with INTO members and the results broadly reflect the views of our members as expressed in our survey and at Congress.

These recommendations will be used to inform Government policy in this area.

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