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Lynn Boylan MEP calls for paid leave for those experiencing domestic violence

25 January, 2016 - by Senator Lynn Boylan

Sinn Féin MEP for Dublin, Lynn Boylan, has urged the European institutions and EU member states to introduce a statutory right to paid leave to workers who are experiencing domestic violence. Ms Boylan was speaking tonight in the European Parliament’s Employment and Social Affairs Committee where she presented a Committee opinion on the links between poverty and gender.

Ms Boylan said: “This is a valuable new idea that has been introduced in Australia and the US, and I want to use my voice here to place this firmly on the agenda of the European Parliament, and indeed on the agenda of the Irish government. 

“It’s important that we recognise the pressure that domestic violence places on women who are trying to maintain their employment and their economic independence. This economic independence in fact plays a crucial role in their ability to escape situations of domestic violence. Women who have exhausted paid leave are at risk of losing their jobs, losing their security and becoming more at risk of poverty.

“This issue affects millions of people, mostly women, across the EU. We know that one in five women experience domestic abuse. A British government study in 2009 found that 20 per cent of employed women had to take a month or more off work in the previous year due to domestic violence, and that 2 per cent of working women actually lost their jobs as a result of it.

“In 2013 and 2014, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, British Trade Union Congress and other unions carried out an extensive survey of their members about this issue which confirmed these figures; and they have called on governments and employers to do more.

“We need to learn from novel ideas and measures used to assist women in these circumstances internationally."

Ms Boylan continued: “Legislation has been introduced in some US states such as Washington that ensures workers who experience domestic violence can take leave to attend medical appointments or court hearings, to  move house or seek a place in a women’s shelter. This is not paid leave, but it is a start.

“Millions of employees are protected through having the option of such leave in Australia where it has successfully been inserted into collective bargaining agreements by the trade union movement, which is now campaigning for the government to recognise it as a statutory right.

“I will be campaigning strongly for the European Parliament to support the adoption of this proposal over the coming months and I look forward to working with women’s organisations and unions across Ireland to achieve this.” ENDS

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