Call for workers experiencing domestic violence to be given paid leave

SF's Mairéad Farrell demands Ireland follow Australia and US on the issue

With more than 100 instances of reported domestic abuse in Galway last year, Ireland must follow the lead of Australia and the United States by introducing paid leave to workers experiencing domestic violence.

This is the view of Sinn Féin city councillor Mairéad Farrell who has called for this measure, following the release of figures from An Garda Síochána, revealing that gardaí dealt with more than 140 domestic incidents in Galway in 2015 - including 27 breaches of barring orders, safety orders, and protection orders. In the case of more than 100 of these incidents, the person who reported it eventually decided against making an official complaint.

Cllr Farrell said the figures, show how "many victims do not feel comfortable with lodging official reports of abuse suffered in the home". She added there is an onus on Government to provide "as many life supports as possible" to ensure a "welcoming and accepting environment for victims of domestic violence".

“It’s important we recognise the pressure domestic violence places on individuals, largely women, trying to maintain their employment and their economic independence," she said. "Economic independence plays a crucial role in their ability to escape situations of domestic violence. Women who have exhausted paid leave are at risk of losing their jobs and their security, and becoming more at risk of poverty. We need to learn from novel ideas and measures used to assist women in these circumstances internationally."

According to the city councillor, legislation has been introduced in some US states, such as Washington, which ensures workers suffering domestic violence can take leave to attend medical appointments or court hearings, to move house, or seek a place in a women’s shelter.

"This is not paid leave, but it is a start," she said. "Also, millions of employees are protected through having the option of such leave in Australia where it has successfully been inserted into collective bargaining agreements by the trade union movement." The Australian trade unions are now campaigning for the government to recognise it as a statutory right.

Cllr Farrell is calling for such approaches to be introduced here, and that Ireland go further, and to make it a statutory right.

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