Domestic Violence LeavePosted in : HR Updates ROI on 22 January 2024
The Work Life Balance and Miscellaneous Provisions Act 2023 has inserted a new section, 13AA in the Parental Leave Acts 1998 to 2023 (“Parental Leave Acts”), which has allowed for the introduction of provisions for paid leave relating to Domestic Violence. These provisions came into effect on the 27th of November 2023.
- Domestic violence means violence, or threat of violence, including sexual violence and acts of coercive control committed against an employee or a relevant person by another person who:
a) is the spouse or civil partner of the employee or relevant person,
b) is the cohabitant of the employee or relevant person,
c) is or was in an intimate relationship with the employee or relevant person, or
d) is a child of the employee or relevant person who is of full age and is not, a dependent person.
- Relevant person, in relation to a person who is:
(a) the spouse or civil partner of the employee
(b) the cohabitant of the employee,
(c) a person with whom the employee is in an intimate relationship,
(d) a child of the employee who has not attained full age, or
(e) a person who, in relation to the employee, is a dependent person;
- Spouse has the same meaning as it has in section 2 of the Domestic Violence Act 2018.
- Dependent person, means any child of the person, or in respect of whom the person is in loco parentis, who is not of full age, or, if the child has attained full age, is suffering from a mental or physical disability to such an extent that it is not reasonably possible for him or her to live independently of the employee or relevant person.
Under these new provisions, an employee is entitled to a maximum of five days paid leave in a 12 month period, paid at their daily rate of pay. Where an employee takes part of their working day for domestic leave purposes, this will be considered as one full day of their five-day entitlement.
Domestic Leave is granted where, the employee or relevant person has experienced in the past or is currently experiencing domestic violence. The Leave is to assist the employee or relevant person in doing any of the following:
- To seek medical attention
- To obtain services from victim services organisation
- To obtain counselling
- To relocate temporarily or permanently
- To obtain an order under the Domestic Violence Act
- To seek legal advice/assistance
- To seek assistance from An Garda Síochána
- To seek or obtain other relevant services
There are various forms of domestic violence that employers need to consider and these can include emotional or psychological abuse, economic abuse, sexual abuse, physical abuse and/or coercive control.
Where an employee wishes to take domestic violence leave or has taken domestic violence leave, they should notify their employer in writing of their intention to take domestic violence leave or, if they are applying for this leave retrospectively, they should provide in writing, the dates they have taken the leave.
It is important to note that an employee is not obliged to provide any supporting information to an employer when they are requesting domestic violence leave and therefore do not have to disclose any information in relation to the domestic abuse they are or have been experiencing.
It is important for employers and managers to have an awareness of the potential signs of domestic violence. These may include issues with work attendance, productivity and/or participation. Other signs may include an employee becoming isolated from colleagues, not joining in social events, and where there is secrecy about home life and relationships. Other signs may be changes in general behaviours such as becoming quiet, anxious, frightened, aggressive, distracted, or depressed can all be escalating signs of abuse.
It is important to note the above is not an exhaustive list and an employer should never assume that of the factors mean the existence of abuse. Employers must never diagnose or presume abuse, rather take the approach in enabling disclosure. The above outlined factors affecting productivity and or performance can be managed without any suspicion of domestic violence.
Employers are encouraged to have a trained designated person to respond to disclosures of domestic violence. This designated person should be someone whose role involves dealing with employee wellbeing concerns, examples may be the business owner, a HR representative, or a people manager.
It is important for employers to have a domestic violence policy in place and ensure that it is communicated to all staff. There may be times where an employee who has or is experiencing domestic violence will choose to disclose their situation to a colleague. The policy should have the basic information required to signpost the impacted colleague to the workplace domestic violence policy.
During any domestic leave, an employee is regarded as being in the employment of the Employer and retains all their rights. Any employee who proposes taking or who has taken domestic violence leave is protected against penalisation. Penalisation includes the dismissal of an employee, unfair treatment, including selection for redundancy and any unfavourable change to conditions of employment.
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