Thursday 30 October 2008

Members are concerned about obtaining special leave in the current economic climate.

Mandate trade union, which represents over 50,000 workers in the retail sector, is today (Thursday, 30 October 2008) calling on Irish employers to recognise the importance of BreastCheck – The National Breast Screening Programme – and facilitate staff members in attending their BreastCheck appointments.

BreastCheck aims to reduce the number of deaths from breast cancer in Ireland amongst women aged 50 – 64. The screening programme which is aimed at women of working age may occasionally interfere with employee work schedules. Mandate say employers should provide employees with time to attend these vital lifesaving screening tests and facilitate their staff in whatever way they can in this regard.

Linda Tanham, Assistant General Secretary of Mandate said, “The importance of BreastCheck for women in diagnosing early signs of breast cancer can mean the difference between life and death for some women. It is essential that female employees are facilitated to attend their appointments.

“Where possible, employers should provide staff with paid relief to attend their BreastCheck appointments. These tests only take approximately thirty minutes to complete with some travel time to get to the screening centre. The screening will only occur once every two years for each staff member but is vital for the physical and mental well being of the workforce. It is not only in the interest of the staff member but the employer will benefit in the long-term from having a healthy work force,” said Ms Tanham.

Mandate trade union has a largely female membership with approximately 70 percent, or 35,000 of their member’s female. The union claim that their members are growing concerned about obtaining special leave to attend BreastCheck screening, especially in the current economic climate where some companies are downsizing staff and cutting hours which allows less flexibility for special leave.

“This is a growing concern for our members in many respects. During this economic downturn more women will rely on free screening programmes like Breastcheck but may not have the option of using unpaid leave to attend their screening appointments. With less disposable income for low paid employees, BreastCheck is all the more essential and one of the only options for female workers to ease their health concerns. Employers need to be aware of this and sympathetic wherever they can,” concluded Ms Tanham.