The government has announced that employees who are victims of domestic violence and avail of domestic violence leave will receive five days leave with full pay. There had been uncertainty over whether such employees would receive full or reduced pay. The decision on pay was reached following consultation with employers' representatives, trade unions and domestic violence support organisations. Ireland is one of the first European countries to introduce such leave.
The Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, Roderic O’Gorman has stated:
“Domestic violence leave gives a victim of domestic violence the chance to access support without impacting on their employment and income. It is important that they can take the leave without worrying about losing income or being put at more risk. Ensuring that they can receive their full pay will go a long way to help with this.”
Domestic violence leave was introduced by the Work Life Balance and Miscellaneous Provisions Act 2023 (the “Act”) which was signed into law on the 4th of April 2023 by President Michael D. Higgins. The Act defines domestic violence as “violence, or threat of violence, including sexual violence and acts of coercive control.”
The purpose of domestic violence leave is to enable the employee to, for example, seek medical attention or legal assistance, obtain counselling or relocate, without impacting on their employment and income. Any employee, including part-time and fixed-term employees can seek to avail of domestic violence leave. The entitlement also extends to relevant persons, meaning employees may use the leave to aid a relevant person in obtaining support. A relevant person may include a spouse, civil partner or cohabitant of the employee, a person with whom the employee is in an intimate relationship, a child of the employee who has not attained full age, or a person who, in relation to the employee, is a dependent person.
If an employee has taken domestic violence leave, they must, as soon as reasonably practicable, send a notice to their employer confirming they have taken this leave and specifying the dates on which it was taken. The employee will not be required to provide any evidence to their employer.
Domestic violence leave will be formally introduced in the autumn with the publication of regulations, which are currently being developed, setting out the rate of pay and guidance for employers.
The introduction of domestic violence leave is timely in light of the release of recent figures from An Garda Siochana which showed the number of reports of domestic violence this year has increased in comparison to the same period in 2022. The protection provided by the Act will allow victims to seek support, without the added concern of their employment and income being impacted.
For more information please contact Claire McDermott, Partner at email: firstname.lastname@example.org or phone + 353 (0) 1 642 4259 or Caoimhe Heery, Partner at email: email@example.com or phone +353 87 2935332; or any member of the Flynn O’Driscoll Employment Team.
This article is current as at 17 August 2023 and is provided for information only and does not constitute legal advice.