Union to seek improved recognition on pregnancy related sick leave – IMPACT Education division conference

A motion to seek greater recognition for women who experience miscarriage has been passed at IMPACT’s Education division conference this afternoon.

Noreen O’Mahoney, training officer with the Munster SNA branch explained to delegates that, at present, the Department of Education and Skills does not recognise miscarriage as a pregnancy related illness.

She explained to delegates that the motion dealt with a very sensitive and difficult issue that has affected a lot of women and families in Ireland. “A miscarriage is the loss of a child and I believe it needs to be recognised as such. The Maternity Protection Act is silent in relation to the loss of a child prior to twenty-four weeks gestation” she said.

Noreen explained that the branch was contacted by a local school rep last year who was distraught that one of her colleagues had been contacted by her school and asked to change her medical cert which stated ‘pregnancy related sick leave’.

“The lady was losing her baby over the course of a couple of weeks and it happened that she was in a surgical theatre when a text arrived from her school late at night asking her to change her cert. When we checked with the Department of Education and Skills we were told that this was correct.  Miscarriage is not recognised as pregnancy related sick leave,” she said.

Noreen said the branch was asking conference to treat the loss of a child at any stage of pregnancy with the respect it deserves. “Please call it what it is, and acknowledge the loss that has occurred. Asking a grieving woman or her family to invent a reason for absence is both unfair and disingenuous. It harks back to a time when losses like this were never publicly or properly acknowledged. Let’s work to change that.  Women and their families who lose a child to miscarriage need care and support. Acknowledging their loss is where we begin.”

The motion was passed by conference.