Maternity Rights for Students

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2006 Health Care Service Group Conference
14 December 2005

This conference congratulates trainee midwives Clare Fletcher and Tracey Parkes as women trailblazers who decided to stand up and be counted in order to win improvements in maternity rights that will benefit many others.

This conference also applauds UNISON for its committed support of their case, and its determination to follow it through with high-profile publicity about the case and seizing the opportunity to support the campaign for student nurses and midwives to have salaried employment.

This conference welcomes the deal secured which provides for 35 – 40 weeks maternity leave – almost double the statutory provision – which represents a substantial victory.

However, bearing in mind how training intakes are programmed this amount of leave can have an unfortunate effect of discouraging students from returning to their training as they end up ‘out-of-synch’ with the course and would have to wait to after that period to resume their training. Conference also notes that UNISON’s current policy is to seek abolition of ordinary maternity leave and additional maternity leave, to be replaced with a standard 12 months for all women, with pay.

This conference further notes that at present students have no right to access the support provided for staff through the Child Care Co-Ordinators which every Strategic Health Authority (SHA) should have.

This conference calls on the Health Service Group Executive to:

(i)Review the deal on maternity leave for students with the aim of developing a claim which improves on the current provision in such a way as to remove any disincentive for returning to training.

(ii)Make representations to Government that when SHA’s commission child care co-ordinator services, that the service is provided for students as well as employees.