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Northern Ireland: Public Consultation on Miscarriage Leave and Pay (24 October 2022)

26/10/2022

On 24 October 2022, the Department of Economy launched a public consultation to bring into force a legal right to miscarriage leave and pay.

This is to enact the commitment – (set out in the Parental Bereavement (Leave and Pay) Act (Northern Ireland) 2022 (the 2022 Act) – to extend the provisions in that Act to those that suffer a miscarriage and remove the service requirement for pay.

The current Statutory Parental Bereavement Leave & Pay entitlement provides for:

  • 10 days’ Parental Bereavement Leave;
  • Parental Bereavement Pay for ‘eligible’ working parents (must meet minimum earnings threshold & have 26-week service requirement);
  • for stillbirth from the 24th week of pregnancy, or the death of a child under the age of 18.

The Executive is obliged by 6 April 2026 to:

  • Extend benefits to those that suffer miscarriage (under 24 weeks);
  • Remove the 26 weeks’ service requirement for pay (i.e., make it a Day 1 right)

When announced, Northern Ireland was the first jurisdiction in Europe to legislate for leave and pay for miscarriage; and when these new rights are enacted, it will mean Northern Ireland’s provisions will go further than the provisions place in GB.

Th Consultation runs from 24 October to 19 December 2022 and seeks views on enacting laws for miscarriage to mirror the provisions currently in place for death of child or still birth. It covers the following areas:

  • Eligibility;
  • How and when miscarriage leave can be taken;
  • The duration of miscarriage pay entitlement;
  • The notice to be given to an employer; and
  • Establish what evidence may be required to demonstrate an entitlement to take miscarriage leave and/or pay.

It does not ask any questions on the tricky issue of ‘how do you calculate if a person meets the lower earning threshold if they have only started employment when they work irregular hours?’

Members can respond directly by completing the Response Document, which seeks in the main yes/no responses, by providing any response to info@eefni.org and we will respond on Organisations’ behalf. Please do contact us if you wish to discuss the consultation or any views in more detail. The Consultation documents can be accessed here.