News & Media

Labour calls for extension of maternity leave.

11 June 2020

Statement by Senator Marie Sherlock
Seanad Whip and Spokesperson on Employment Affairs, Media, Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht

Labour Senator Marie Sherlock has called on the Government to extend maternity leave for three months for women returning to work.

Speaking at the handover of a petition of over 25,000 signatures to extend maternity leave, Senator Marie Sherlock said:

“Working parents and particularly mothers are experiencing real difficulties in accessing childcare as they are being asked to return to their workplaces. Extending the period of paid maternity leave is one crucial measure that could be taken by the new Government to relieve the pressure on working mothers.

“Many families with young babies have been caught in a very frustrating vicious cycle- parents have been unable to secure a new childcare place for their young babies because childcare providers were forced to close.

“Those providers have been forced to stay closed long after other sectors of the economy have re-opened and many of those providers have not been able to provide any reassurances to families of how and when they will re-open until the announcement of the financial package of support for the sector”. 

Senator Sherlock continued:

“The experience of the public health crisis has imposed a major strain on working mothers. The exact impact of this strain on productivity, on total remuneration and on career progression has yet to be measured but we know from survey data here in Ireland and internationally that working mothers have been carrying a disproportionate share of the caring responsibilities within the home.

“We know that some employers have not shown flexibility to working parents in dealing with the lack of childcare and as recently as this week, a circular to State agencies detailing a new Home Working Scheme stated that “ No other non (agency name) obligations or commitments on the day ( e.g. child-minding) can arise for a staff member working from home”. This sends a stark warning to working parents while childcare facilities are still closed.

“For families that have exhausted all paid Maternity, parental and paternity leave, an extension to paid maternity leave as the economy re-opens would be an important support to working mothers.”