Introduction of Domestic Violence Leave
The Parental Leave Act 1998 was amended with effect from 27 November 2023 to provide five days (over a period of 12 consecutive months) to employees for domestic violence leave. Employers are not responsible for domestic violence but are in a position to act as allies and recognise the impact on an employee’s capacity to remain in work and to work to their full potential during such an episode.
The Act defines ‘domestic violence’ as “violence, or threat of violence, including sexual violence and acts of coercive control” committed against an employee or a relevant person by another person to include a spouse or intimate partner. The leave is intended to facilitate and support employees who are victims of such abuse to seek medical attention, help from victim services organisations, under- go counselling, obtain a court order, relocate, take legal advice or seek assistance from the Gardaí. The entitlement includes the right to take domestic violence leave for the purposes of assisting a ‘relevant person’ in the seeking of any of these supports. Relevant person can be a spouse/ civil partner, a dependent child/person or a co-habitant.
There is no minimum service requirement specified in the Act and thus employees are entitled to take domestic vio- lence leave from their first day of employment should they need to do so. This leave is payable by the employer at the employee’s full rate of pay. The intention is to allow affected parties to seek support without the added concern of their employment and income being impacted.
Employees who take domestic violence leave must, as soon as reasonably practicable after having taken the leave, notify their employer of the fact that they have taken domestic violence leave and the dates on which it was taken. This makes clear that domestic violence leave can be applied for retrospectively after the employee has taken the leave. The employee will have to disclose the nature of the leave, but the Act does not require employees to provide evidence to support their need to take domestic violence leave. Careful consideration should be given as to how domestic violence leave will be recorded on internal employer systems and on payslips bearing in mind the importance of confidentiality.
Employees who propose taking or who have taken domestic violence leave are protected against any penalisation for having done so.
Whilst there is no legal obligation on an employer to have a domestic violence leave policy, it is best practice that organisations have one in place. If you require advice and/ or assistance in putting together a policy please reach out to one of the team in CC Solicitors.