Thursday 14 January 2021
Green Party MLA and Justice Committee member Rachel Woods has said that victims and survivors of domestic abuse must be better supported in their places of work by their employers.
Rachel's call comes as a new UK government report has encouraged employers to look out for signs of domestic abuse in the workplace. The report estimated that for the year ending 31 March 2017, domestic abuse cost £66 billion in England and Wales, with £47 billion the cost of physical and emotional harm incurred by victims and £14 billion as a cost to the economy from lost output due to time off work and, or reduced productivity.
Rachel Woods MLA said: "Domestic abuse is a workplace issue and as well as being equipped to identify signs of abuse, employers must be empowered to support victims of abuse. That's why I'm working on a Private Members Bill to create a right to paid leave to victims and survivors of domestic abuse and encouraging businesses to have domestic abuse workplace policies in place.
"Victims and survivors of abuse may need to take time for medical appointments as a result of the abuse, they may need to source emergency or alternative accommodation, they may need to attend legal appointments or assist their children or other dependents. All of these tasks are vital and take time and potentially time out of work - no one should face the threat of reduced wages or disciplinary action if they find themselves in this difficult situation.
"At present, employers can avail of training aimed at putting a domestic abuse workplace policy in place. That's not enough, however. Domestic abuse is insidious and rife across society and we must help people affected in every way possible.
"This report has also been published at a time when rates of domestic abuse are on the rise. Lockdown has made the situation more difficult and for many, many people, staying home does not equate with staying safe.
"I look forward to the Domestic Abuse Bill finally becoming law later this year and also am hopeful that my Private Members Bill will attract cross party support."
Sinead McIvor - 07701 302 498