Congress welcomes Government agreement to introduce paid domestic violence leave.

10 Dec 2020

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Commenting on Minister O’Gorman’s announcement this week that he had secured Government agreement to establish a statutory entitlement to paid domestic violence leave, Congress Equality Officer, David Joyce, said:
“This has been a longstanding demand of the trade union movement and we welcome this important announcement.”

The Minister agreed to the action following a Bill brought forward by Louise O'Reilly T.D, Sinn Féin.

The proposal was first mooted in a trade union guide to domestic abuse produced by our Women’s Committee in 2009 and a motion calling for such a right was debated and passed at our March 2020 Women’s Conference.

Congress was also part of the Workers Group in the ILO that negotiated ILO Convention 190 on Violence and Harassment in the World of Work. Article 18 of the accompanying recommendation specifies measures that should be taken to mitigate the impacts of domestic violence at work including leave for the victims of domestic violence, flexible work arrangements, and the inclusion of domestic violence in workplace risk assessments.

Only a few weeks ago, the trade union federations of Great Britain and the island of Ireland (TUC, STUC, WTUC and ICTU) which together represent over 6 million workers, called for urgent interventions to support victims and survivors of domestic and sexual violence in work and in society. The statement proclaimed that domestic abuse is always a workplace issue and trade unions know that work is often a place of safety for women experiencing domestic abuse.

“Every year sees mounting evidence of the devastating impact of violence against women but 2020 has been particularly difficult. During lockdowns many women were stuck at home with the perpetrator of violence, unable to escape to, what for many women, is the safety of their workplace”, Mr Joyce added.

This announcement is an important acknowledgment of the need for additional employment rights. Very often people need to take time off to access legal or financial support and during the working day is the only safe time to do this. A day one right to paid time off from work to access this support, as in countries like Australia or New Zealand, will make a real difference to women’s lives.

Mr Joyce added: “Congress urges the Department to move quickly towards the process of designing the scheme and looks forward to participating in the consultation process with other stakeholders”.