Domestic Violence Leave – Employer guidelines and template policy now available
Guidelines and Policy Template for employers now available at www.DVatWork.ie to support employers developing their workplace domestic abuse policy.
The issue of gender-based violence and women’s safety is one that business has been conscious of for quite some time. Organisations have identified potential risks and implemented policies and procedures around lone workers, transport late at night, sexual harassment in the workplace, and dignity at work to provide a safe working environment for all.
Unfortunately, gender-based violence is a symptom of a greater issue caused by gender inequality. While Ireland has made significant progress in addressing this issue, the number of reports of violent and fatal attacks on women remind us that under the surface, our hard-won gender equality progress is fragile and not as far progressed as we would have hoped. Tackling gender-based violence and preventing it from occurring will require a whole of society approach and a cultural change in how we discuss men, women and gender.
Domestic violence has often been seen as a personal issue. It is defined as a set of physical and non-physical abusive behaviours perpetrated by current/former intimate partners and family members, including emotional, physical, sexual and economic abuse and coercive control (Women’s Aid, 2023). While men can be subject to domestic violence, the majority of victims are women and as such this issue contributes to wider gender inequality.
Domestic violence is also a workplace issue. In 2021, Safe Ireland released a report estimating the cost of domestic violence to be €2.7 billion each year, with the largest proportion of that cost identified as lost income and productivity. While research by the Vodafone Foundation found that 37 per cent of workers in their study had been subjected to domestic abuse. Of those, 94 per cent reported a negative impact on their work. Following the introduction of domestic violence leave in the Work Life Balance and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, employees affected by domestic violence will now be able to avail of up to five days of paid leave over a period of 12 months from November 27th, 2023.
To support employers in implementing statutory domestic violence leave, Women’s Aid were tasked by the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, to develop support materials and training for employers to develop a workplace domestic abuse policy and confidently support employees dealing with domestic abuse. The role of the employer is to help reduce the stigma around domestic violence and enable employees to feel supported to speak up regarding the issues they may be experiencing as they navigate through this crisis.
The information and support resources are now available at www.DVatWork.ie and are accompanied by a number of information sessions. Women’s Aid sees training as a key element in the development of a workplace response to domestic violence and abuse. To ensure that training is a feasible option for all organisations, on 28th November they are holding a training session on Recognising and Responding to Domestic Abuse in the Workplace for staff of organisations with 150 employees or fewer. For further information or to register, please visit: Recognising and Responding to Domestic Abuse in the Workplace. They also offer training solutions for larger organisations which can be accessed at Support for Employers.
Tackling gender-based violence will require addressing its root causes in gender inequality, and a cultural change in how we discuss men, women and gender. This will require action and awareness raising in our homes, our schools, our communities, our government and our workplaces if we are to create a safer and more equal Ireland for both men and women. While business has been making significant progress around gender equality, it remains fragile and there is more work to be done. Ibec will continue to work with business and stakeholders to support their employees, including in this domestic violence space, to address gender inequality and promote equality, diversity and inclusion throughout all workplace interactions.
Head of Social Policy, Ibec