Family Status

The Equal Status Acts list the discriminatory ground, 'Family Status' as being "that one has family status and the other does not or that one has a different family status from the other."

According to IHREC, the Family Status ground means: "You are entitled to equal treatment if you are pregnant or the parent or the 5 | person responsible for a child under 18 years. This ground also protects those who are the main carers or the parent of a person with a disability who is 18 years or over where their disability requires care on an ongoing basis."

UCC continuously strives to make a workplace that allows for full participation equality of opportunity for individuals who have caring responsibilities though initiatives such as flex-time working arrangements.  Other initiatives are detailed below.

 

Carers' Week 2020

The 8-14 June 2020 is Carer's Week in Ireland.  For information on what's happening nationally, see here: https://www.carersweek.ie/

During this week, it is important to recognise the toll that Covid-19 and the necessary restrictions is having on carers.  An article potentially of interest can be found here: https://m.independent.ie/life/health-wellbeing/health-features/carers-are-frontline-workers-too-but-we-are-unappreciated-and-unseen-brenda-oconnell-barry-39262801.html  More are available here.

Information and supports for carers:

 

Family-friendly Initiatives

UCC provides a number of family-friendly initiatives aimed at staff, such as coaching before and after maternity leave, support for managers to prepare for staff going on family leave, allocated parking available to pregnant staff, flexible working and others.

These and more can be viewed in more detail here.

Support for pregnant students

Through the Office of the VP for Student Experience, UCC offers support for students who become pregnant during their time in UCC.

Guiding Principle

The university will ensure to the greatest extent possible that any student who becomes pregnant will be accommodated to allow her complete her programme of study while maintaining academic standards. Throughout the course of the pregnancy every effort will be made to give feasible care and attention to her health and wellbeing.

The supports available to pregnant students may be viewed here.

On-campus childcare

UCC is home to an on-campus University Crèche, located in the grounds of the Brookfield Health Sciences Complex, and is available to both staff and students of UCC.

It can be reached at +353 (0)21 4901607 or by email at creche@ucc.ie 

Introduction of Maternity Leave in Ireland

Until now, most women in employment have faced a real and often difficult choice between the desire to have a family and the wish to stay in paid employment. The former “marriage bar” has been replaced by a “maternity bar”, less obvious but no less effective. For too long an expectant working mother has had no right to return to her work after her confinement. In addition she often suffered financial hardship because of her loss of income.

Minister of State at the Department of Labour (Mr. Daly) 1981, Seanad Debate 11/3/81

In 1981, Ireland introduced statutory maternity leave in the Maternity Protection of Employees Act.  This replaced the maternity provision in the Unfair Dismissals Act, 1977, which provided some protection against being fired for either being pregnant or issues connected to same[1], made provision to allow for ante- and post-natal care of the birthing mother, care of the infant in the weeks post-birth, and, for the first time, gave job protection to the mother.  The Act allowed for 14 weeks of maternity leave, at least four of which were to be taken pre-birth as it was deemed medically preferable for the health of the mother to have this rest period prior to going into labour, and at least four to be taken after confinement to allow for a recovery period afterwards.  A period of four weeks (additional to the initial 14) was also allowed.  Provision was made for women to attend ante-natal and post-natal clinics or to receive ante-natal and post-natal care as required.  And all of this was allowed with the added protection that ‘while she is on maternity leave, such an employee shall be deemed to have been in the employment of her employers and, accordingly, while so absent she shall ... be treated as if she had not been so absent and such absence shall not affect any right (other than her right to remuneration during such absence) ... related to her employment’ (MPE Act 1981, s.15(1)).  While it did not allow a nursing mother to claim wages from her employer while on maternity leave, it did make provision for Social Welfare payments (a flat weekly rate of £20.45, which was equal to unemployment benefit but with no increase allowed for dependents) to be made for the initial leave period of 14 weeks under Part III of the Social Welfare (Amendment) Act, 1981.

When it is considered that, in 1974, Sweden had already replaced maternity leave with a more gender neutral parental leave, the provisions above may seem behind the curve.  But in a country that had only lifted the marriage bar a few years earlier, this level of protection in the workplace for mothers with babies was arguably a considerable advance in equality in the workplace.  Current statutory Maternity Leave entitlements can be viewed here.

In 2016, Ireland introduced its first statutory Paternity Leave of two weeks, and at present (October 2018), a Shared Maternity Leave and Benefit Bill is going before the Dáil, that recommends allowing both parents of a child to share this 26 week period of paid maternity leave between them and will also apply to adoptive parents and to same-sex parents.

 

[1] Unfair Dismissal Act 1977 s.6(2) “Without prejudice to the generality of subsection (1) of this section, the dismissal of an employee shall be deemed, for the purposes of this Act, to be an unfair dismissal if it results wholly or mainly from one or more of the following: (f) the pregnancy of the employee or matters connected therewith, unless – (i) the employee was unable, by reason of the pregnancy or matters connected therewith – (I) to do adequately the work for which she was employed, or (II) to continue to do such work without contravention by her or her employer of a provision of a statute or instrument made under statute, and (ii) (I) there was not, at the time of the dismissal, any other employment with her employer that was suitable for her and in relation to which there was a vacancy, or (II) the employee refused an offer by her employer of alternative employment on terms and conditions corresponding to those of the employment to which the dismissal related, being an offer made so as to enable her to be retained in the employment of her employer notwithstanding pregnancy.

Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Unit

Comhionannas, Éagsúlacht agus Ionchuimsitheacht

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