Pub­lic ser­vants to ask for time-off for women suf­fer­ing se­vere pe­riod pain

Irish Independent - - News - Anne-Marie Walsh In­dus­try Cor­re­spon­dent

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.

Pa­tri­cia Fan­ning, equal­ity of­fi­cer with Forsa

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