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Ireland bottom of the European league when it comes to paid maternity leave

Published: Friday, March 24, 2017

A report today by the Trade Union Congress (TUC), the umbrella organisation of Britain's trade unions, found that Ireland is bottom of the European league for paid maternity leave. Responding to this report, the National Women’s Council of Ireland (NWCI) called for the new National Women’s Strategy to address the fact that the majority of low paid, precarious workers are women, and increase supports for low paid women workers.

Orla O’Connor, Director of NWCI said,

“This TUC report comes as no surprise, for although the duration of maternity leave in Ireland has increased to 26 weeks, maternity pay has not increased with it, and employers are not obliged to cover any period of maternity pay. While public sector employers, and some private sector employers will continue to pay an employee in full while she is on maternity leave, the vast majority of lower-paid jobs, particularly those that come with precarious contracts, do not come with contractual maternity pay. When you look at maternity pay provisions across Europe, Ireland stands out as having a relatively long period of maternity leave but a low amount of pay.”

Orla O’Connor continued,

“NWCI strongly welcomed the increase in the duration of maternity leave to 26 weeks, but we know that some women are forced to return to work earlier than they would wish, because they cannot afford to stay off. This is a critical issue for low paid workers. Almost three-quarters of those on the minimum wage are women, and half of all women workers earn €20,000 or less a year. The government is in the midst of developing a new National Women’s Strategy; addressing the fact that the majority of low paid workers are women, and increasing supports for these women workers must be central to its development.”


For more information, please contact Sarah Clarkin, Communications Officer, 085 8619087