Ireland an example of 'worst practice' in parental leave rights - O'Reilly
Sinn Féin TD for Dublin Fingal, Louise O'Reilly, addressed a conference in the European Parliament today on reviving parental leave rights in the EU.
Speaking from Brussels, Deputy O'Reilly said: "The Irish state was identified today in a conference of experts from across Europe as an example of worst practice in the EU when it comes to parental leave rights.
"It lags far behind other member states in the EU when it comes to maternity leave, paternity leave and parental leave. And it puts traditional assumptions about the role of women in society and in the family at the centre of these policies.
"The 26 weeks of paid maternity leave that new mothers in this state are entitled to is paid at a low flat rate, one of the lowest levels of payment in the EU. We're still waiting for any paid paternity leave to be implemented and we only have unpaid parental leave, for which there is a very low take-up.
"There are several other important factors in the Irish context that worsen the situation for parents. These include discrimination against pregnant women in the workplace; the prevalence of low pay and precarious work, the punishment of lone parents who want to work, and skyrocketing childcare costs.
"The decision made by the outgoing government to force lone-parent households to disproportionately bear the brunt of austerity cuts has led to the situation where these households, the vast majority of them headed by women, are experiencing enforced deprivation at a staggering rate of 63 per cent.
"And the prohibitive cost of childcare in this state - at around double the EU average - has the disgraceful effect of entirely excluding some women from participating in the productive economy and forcing others into precarious, low-paid jobs.
Deputy O'Reilly continued: "Sinn Féin calls on the incoming government to immediately cap and then quickly reduce childcare fees; and to restore the rights and payments to lone parents to an adequate level that will tackle women's and child poverty. We will continue to fight for decent rights and entitlements for women and families, including maternity leave, paternity leave, parental leave and carer's leave - across Ireland and in the EU." ENDS