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

Update on realisation of Motion

Labour Party Senator Ivana Bacik agreed to work with the INTO to draft a Bill that would realise the leave sought in the motion. This Bill entitled Organisation of Working Time (Reproductive Health Related Leave) Bill 2021. It amends the Organisation of Working Time Act (1997) and applies not just to teachers but to all workers. The amendment provides 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 details 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 ensure a clear category of paid leave and removes the need for teachers and all workers to use sick leave or annual leave for their reproductive health leave matters. This will also remove the stress from those who need the leave.

The Bill was presented in the Seanad on Monday, 22 March and has received warm support from the public. It is hoped that the Bill will be debated in May/June depending on arrangements for Private Members Time in the Seanad. If it passes the Seanad it then goes to the Dáil. The leader of the Seanad, Senator Regina Doherty (FG) has called for cross party support for the Bill – a very positive step!

The Bill passed Second Stage on 24 May, proposed by Senator Bacik and seconded by Senator Marie Sherlock. During the two-hour debate on this second stage, a total of 18 senators spoke on the Bill from all groupings and parties, both government and opposition. All expressed support for its provisions.

In response, Minister Damian English committed to working with Senator Bacik and her Labour colleagues to ensure that the provisions of the Bill would be implemented.

He expressed the view that a different, stand-alone statutory framework would be preferable to the Organisation of Working Time Act, and he asked for a little time to decide on the next steps for government to take on this; he will be working with Minister Roderic O’Gorman due to the equality impacts of the Bill. Senator Bacik committed to working with him and his colleagues in government on making further progress with the Bill over coming months.

The Bill passed Second Stage without any vote being called. The full transcript of the debate can be accessed here.

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