Domestic Violence Leave: What You Need to Know

Woman suffering Domestic Violence

by Éibhín Stapleton Solicitor, Cork Office, RDJ LLP

In our previous article, about the upcoming new rights conferred by the Work Life Balance and Miscellaneous Provisions Act 2023, we noted that while certain provisions of the Work Life Balance and Miscellaneous Provisions Act 2023 (“the Act”) came into effect in July 2023, further provisions remained to be commenced by way of Commencement Order before they would take effect.

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The Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth (“the Minister”) announced recently that a further provision under the Act, domestic violence leave is to commence on Monday, 27th November 2023. The Act inserts domestic violence leave as a new section 13AA of the Parental Leave Act 1998 as amended.

Once commenced, any employee who has experienced in the past, or is currently experiencing domestic violence will have an entitlement to take paid leave for the following purposes:

  • to seek medical attention;
  • to obtain services from a victim services organisation;
  • to obtain psychological or other professional counselling;
  • to relocate temporarily or permanently;
  • to obtain an order under the Domestic Violence Act 2018;
  • to seek advice or assistance from a legal practitioner;
  • to seek assistance from the Garda Síochána;
  • to seek or obtain any other relevant services.

The entitlement is for employees to take up to five days paid domestic violence leave in any 12 consecutive months. Where an employee is absent from work for the purposes of domestic violence leave for part of a day, that will be counted as a full day of domestic violence leave.

Domestic violence leave applies to any person of any age who has entered into or works under a contract of employment, including part-time and fixed-term employees. As there is no service requirement specified in the Act, employees will be entitled to take domestic violence leave from their first day of employment should they need to do so.

The entitlement also extends to employees to take domestic violence leave for the purposes of assisting a ‘relevant person’ in the doing of any of the above listed actions. A ‘relevant person’ is defined under the Act as the spouse or civil partner of the employee, the 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.

Domestic violence is defined broadly under the Act to include violence or threat of violence, including sexual violence and acts of coercive control committed against an employee or a relevant person by another person.

Rate of Pay for Domestic Violence Leave

The Minister announced in August 2023 that employees who need to take domestic violence leave will receive their full pay for those days, paid by the employer.

Notification to Employers

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.

The Act does not require employees to provide evidence to support their need to take domestic violence leave.

Guidance

The Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, in conjunction with Women’s Aid, has published support materials to include a Policy Template and Guidance Note to support employers in developing workplace domestic violence policies.

Impact on Employers

All employers will now need to review policies and handbooks and update them to incorporate the new entitlement of employees to domestic violence leave.

About the author

Éibhín Stapleton is a Solicitor in the Cork Office of RDJ LLP, practising as part of the Employment Team. She has experience in advising clients across various sectors, in both contentious and non-contentious aspects of employment law.

Éibhín regularly reviews contracts of employment, company handbooks, policies and procedures and tailors them to meet the specific needs of our clients.

Éibhín has also been involved in defending employment-related proceedings that come before the Workplace Relations Commission and recognises the importance of providing clients with practical and commercially sensible advice in approaching the defense of those claims. Éibhín has experience in advising clients on complex issues arising under the Organisation of Working Time Act and various issues associated with protected leave in the workplace.