Domestic violence leave: IBEC stance highlights toxic ‘culture of doubt’

IBEC’s objections to legislation dubbed ‘anti-woman and anti-business’

October 6th: Unite, which represents workers throughout the economy, today (Thursday) said that demands by employers’ group IBEC earlier this year that domestic violence victims be required to provide evidence of abuse when seeking leave under new legislation highlight what the union termed a ‘toxic culture of doubt’ surrounding domestic violence.

Commenting, Regional Women’s and Equalities Officer Taryn Trainor said:

“It is estimated that, globally, fewer than 40% of women experiencing domestic violence and abuse seek help – not only because of practical obstacles, but also because of misplaced shame, embarrassment and the fear that they will not be believed.

“The fact that IBEC not only objected to the very concept of domestic violence leave, but also apparently sought a provision allowing employers to seek proof from a worker applying for such leave in order to ‘avoid any potential abuse of domestic violence leave’ sends a chilling message to workers caught up in a domestic violence situation and reinforces a toxic culture of doubt which forces women to stay in unsafe situations”.

Regional Coordinating Officer Tom Fitzgerald added:

“I have no doubt that many IBEC members will have been shocked at the organisation’s position, which is not only anti-woman but also anti-business.  In 2021, NUI Galway and Safe Ireland published a study looking at the social and economic costs of domestic violence and abuse, and concluded that the aggregate cost of domestic violence over a woman’s journey to safety was €113,000 per woman.  The major part of this related to lost income and productivity, with many women prevented from working, forced to work part-time or to take sick leave, while others ceased economic engagement altogether.

“Rather than trying to explain and justify their stance, IBEC needs to publicly retract their objections to the legislation, issue a full apology, and provide an extensive programme of training to their members to ensure that the new legislation is fully implemented at enterprise level in a manner that reflects victims’ needs”, Mr Fitzgerald concluded.

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