24th May 2021
Government fully committed to supporting prospective parents
Minister of State for Business, Employment and Retail Damien English TD this evening (24th May) addressed the Seanad on the Private Member’s Bill, Organisation of Working Time (Reproductive Health Related Leave) Bill 2021 which proposed that employees be entitled to leave with pay where the employee has suffered a miscarriage and leave with pay to receive treatment from a registered practitioner in the State in relation to pregnancy, childbirth or assisted human reproduction.
Speaking this evening Minister English said,
“I welcome the Private Members Bill as an important contribution to the discussion in this area. Miscarriage and stillbirth are extremely difficult experiences that touch many peoples’ lives, perhaps more people than any of us here realise as more than one in five pregnancies end in miscarriage. The loss is devastating for women and their partners.”
Minister English acknowledged the general cross-party backing for the Bill and while Government supports the central premise of the Bill, there are several matters that need addressing and it could not be fully supported in its current form.
He added that,
“Government believes it would be more appropriate to provide for leave in such circumstances through a discrete piece of standalone legislation or amendment of existing family leave provisions, rather than amending the Organisation of Working Time Act as proposed by this Private Members Bill.
He added that,
“Any legislation would need to provide for a detailed definition of medical terminology and the circumstances in which leave for reproductive purposes would apply.”
He also pointed out that Government has decided, through the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, Roderic O’Gorman T.D., to commission research to examine the context for the provision of reproductive health leave, including how leave can be best used to support reproductive health needs.
Minister English emphasised that,
“A full Regulatory Impact Assessment and consultation with employers and employee representatives regarding the proposed number of days leave would need to be undertaken before this legislation is progressed. Any form of statutory leave places a burden on employers, and this must be finely balanced with the needs of the prospective parents in Ireland.”
He concluded by saying,
“I empathise with all women and their partners who suffer miscarriages and the huge loss they feel. I also understand the emotional and physical demands assisted reproduction can take on couples. I wish to assure all those who have lived these experiences, and who will do so in the future, that Government is fully committed to supporting them."
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