Cabinet has approved a scheme to allow county and city councillors to take paid maternity leave.
Councillors can also be given funding to hire someone to assist with secretarial work.
Image: Shutterstock/Makistock Image: Shutterstock/Makistock CABINET HAS APPROVED a scheme to allow county and city councillors to take paid maternity leave and will give them the choice to appoint an individual as a temporary substitute in their absence.The proposals going to the Cabinet would allow a temporary substitute to take the place of a councillor for the 26-week maternity leave period.Kildare mother Erica Tierney was 30 weeks pregnant in 2019 when she received a breast cancer diagnosis.A woman who was sexually abused by her older brother when she was a child has said today is the start of the rest of her life after he was jailed for three years.
Currently female councillors are office-holders rather than employees and are not covered by the statutory framework for employees on issues such as maternity leave.Today cabinet has approved of a legislative provision for female councillors to access maternity leave under the Maternity Protection Act 1994 by granting them the same rights as female employees.Concern had been expressed that women on leave were under pressure to attend council votes and community meetings.The Minister of State with responsibility for Local Government and Planning, Peter Burke TD, welcomed the move today and said that it made politics more accessible to women.She wrapped up her treatment with just one week left in her maternity leave, describing herself at the time as "really sick, bald and hardly able to shuffle to the shop," when she received a letter from the social welfare reminding her that her time off was coming to a close.Advertisement “Today’s cabinet decision allows us to address a deficit which should not exist in a 21st century workplace, to provide full maternity leave for our councillors.However, for those who wish to continue in the role there is an option of a 26-week payment to hire someone to provide administrative support to the councillor.” “Our rate of female participation in both local and national government is shamefully low, and I believe this measure will remove another obstacle and allow us to make the role of a councillor more accessible to half of our population,” he said." “Goodbye Cian,” she added in her victim impact statement, saying she hoped she would never see or hear from her brother again.
The maternity leave scheme was informed by an all-female working group established by Minister Burke last year made up of seven female councillors, nominated by the main political parties as well as an independent councillor..Speaking on her experiences, she told RSVP Live : I started noticing some symptoms that I had, which was a large lump, probably in and around 28 weeks, and I went to my sister who is a midwife, and she said 'look, changes to the breast are normal during pregnancy, but its always good to get these things checked out.“Councillors will soon have the choice to have an individual fill in for them while they are on leave.This would apply for all votes, all meetings and all elements of the role,” Burke continued.“Previously, I was aware of situations where councillors felt pressure to turn up to important votes or debates, when they needed to be at home caring for a new baby.There was a small wait to find out the pathology results, and unfortunately it came back that it was quite aggressive and quite advanced, so they needed to do the mastectomy while I was still pregnant.It is not credible maternity leave if you cannot fully switch off from your work.“There was a significant degree of violence which made the assaults all the more terrifying for a small child in the family home,” the judge said.
” If a councillor does not want to have a substitute, but would like more administrative support, they will be given funding to hire someone to assist with secretarial work.#Open journalism No news is bad news Support The Journal Your contributions will help us continue to deliver the stories that are important to you Support us now “We see many Oireachtas members starting off their political careers in local government so these measures will also have a positive effect on gender equality in our Dáil and Seanad Chambers,” Burke added."I didn’t even know it was possible to have surgery when you were that pregnant - except to have something to actually deliver your baby - so I just could not believe I was going through that.Last year Minister for Justice Helen McEntee became the second serving minister to announce her pregnancy in the history of the State, and the first while holding Cabinet rank.McEntee became a minister without a portfolio during six months of paid maternity leave, while Minister Heather Humphreys temporarily held her position due to a lack of existing framework for such a situation.." Her treatments continued until May 2020, when she first realised that her maternity leave had been running out throughout her experiences with ill-health.Speaking outside court, Ms Farrelly said she was pleased with the sentence that was handed down, saying that the headline sentence the judge mentioned was “enough” for her.
Plan to introduce maternity leave for councillorsPlans to introduce maternity leave for councillors will be announced by Minister of State with Responsibility for Local Government Peter Burke.
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