Wednesday 22 May 2019

Teachers call for statutory leave after miscarriages

Stock photo
Stock photo
Katherine Donnelly

Katherine Donnelly

The primary teachers’ union, the INTO, has become the first in the public service to call for statutory leave after a miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy or fertility treatment.

The union’s annual conference has supported a Reproductive Health Related Matters Scheme as part of comprehensive review of the current sick leave entitlements.

During the debate, a number of teachers shared personal stories about reproductive health related matters, which are not covered by the current pregnancy-related sick leave scheme.

One delegate Josephine Byrne told the conference of how she had experienced a miscarriage two years ago when she was 10 weeks’ pregnant.

She said she had received a very sympathetic response from her principal who was “beyond supportive” and urged her to take as much time off as she needed.

But in spite of this reassurance she was worried about using up her sick leave, and returned to work before she was ready, she told the conference.

Ms Byrne, a member of the INTO equality committee and a member of the Edenderry, Co Offaly, branch, said separate reproductive health leave, was needed. She said that pregnancy-related sick certificates could currently only be issued by GPs for issues arising in later pregnancy.

She added: “Fertility treatment, scans for possible difficulties, difficulties with IVF should all be covered. A lot of teachers feel slightly uncomfortable about speaking to a principal about such issues. A certificate would respect this privacy."

Ms Byrne subsequently became pregnant, and gave birth to twins six months ago.

The INTO equality committee recently conducted a survey to gather evidence of members’ reproductive health issues and more than 2,200 responses were received.

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