Safe Ireland urges all-party support for Bill to provide paid leave for domestic violence survivors

Private Members Bill at second stage in the Dáil this evening

Safe Ireland today welcomes the presentation (second stage) of the new Organisation of Working Time (Domestic Violence Leave) Bill 2020 to the Dáil this evening and urges deputies from across the house to support the Bill without any undue delay.

The purpose of the Bill is to amend the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997 to create a statutory entitlement to paid leave for employees as a consequence of domestic violence. The Private Members’ Bill is being presented by Sinn Fein deputies Louise O’Reilly and Mary Lou McDonald. It was first introduced on November 17th. The vote on the second stage will take place tomorrow

Safe Ireland, which is the national agency working with 39 domestic violence member services, said that the amendment Bill is another vital step towards the wrap-around statutory infrastructure that survivors of domestic violence need to stay safe in their own homes and to help navigate their way from violence and control. Earlier this year the government introduced protocols to assist survivors of domestic violence to access rent allowance.

“We welcome this Bill and are supporting it,” said Mary McDermott, Co-CEO of Safe Ireland. “We are also urging deputies from all parties to attend the debate this evening and to vote in favour of its passage without any undue delay. Every day and week that this is delayed puts women and children at greater risk of poverty, income and job insecurity and of remaining trapped with their abusers.”

“Work is a vital support of income and a place of sanctuary for many survivors,” she continued. “The risk of losing that income, that sanctuary and even ultimately the job, is huge if a woman has to take time off because of trauma or injuries as a result of domestic violence – an issue perhaps that she feels she can’t even talk about openly with her employers at the moment. In addition, a higher proportion of women in Ireland have part-time or precarious work contracts, putting them at even greater risk of income loss and job security if they can’t go to work.“

She said that while the Bill provides another security blanket to survivors, it also provides some guidance and support to employers on recognising domestic violence and what to do if an employee seeks paid sick leave because of it. Over the past few years similar legislation has been successfully enacted in Canada, New Zealand and The Philippines.