Thursday 19 September 2019

Time off work for women suffering severe period pain could become a thing in Ireland

Period pain
Period pain

Anne-Marie Walsh

Public servants are set to seek time-off for workers who suffer from severe period pain.

Probation officers will today ask their union to campaign for the introduction of menstrual leave in a motion to be tabled at Fórsa’s first conference in Killarney, Co Kerry.

The leave is already available to women who suffer from extreme period pain in Asian countries, including Japan and China.

They can take two or three days off work, sometimes on a paid and sometimes an unpaid basis.

The motion urges the union to campaign for the introduction of menstrual leave and says it is a “progressive proposal” that “recognises and respects” the pain and difficulties suffered by women. It says it is successfully in place in other jurisdictions.

However, the leave has been criticised as counterproductive, as it might turn employers off hiring women in the first place. There are also concerns that female workers might feel it would be frowned on if they availed of it and they could face discrimination.

The conference also heard yesterday that women are working 71 minutes for free every day compared with their male colleagues because of a 15pc gap between their pay.

But a senior official said new laws promised by the Government to tackle the wage discrepancy may not become a reality.

Fórsa equal opportunities officer Patricia Fanning said proposed legislation to make employers report on their gender pay gaps is now unlikely to become law before a general election.

She said this is because the Government intends to draw up its own bill.

Ms Fanning said this is at best a delaying tactic and at worst an attempt to kill the proposal. She urged the Government to instead back the existing gender pay gap bill, which is expected to move to committee stage before the summer recess.

She noted that new legislation would mean the minister must draw up a bill for Cabinet approval and then there could be lengthy scrutiny of it before it could pass through the Oireachtas. She noted that the confidence and supply arrangement between the Government and Fianna Fáil only runs to the budget.

The law would mean that medium and large companies must publish their average pay for men and women.

“How long must women wait for measures which, though crucial, will only get us to the foothills of gender pay equality?” she asked.

Irish Independent

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