Unions have welcomed the passing of the work-life balance bill, which will see the introduction of paid leave for domestic violence victims as well as rights to request flexible working arrangements.
The Work Life Balance and Miscellaneous Provisions Bill 2022 was passed by both houses of the Oireachtas on Wednesday evening. It now goes to the desk of President Michael D Higgins to be signed into law.
On the passage of the bill, Equality Minister Roderic O’Gorman said it “represents a significant advance in workers’ rights” and “recognises the importance of family life”.
The bill will see the introduction of:
- Five days unpaid leave for medical care purposes for parents of children under 12, and carers;
- Five days paid leave for victims of domestic violence;
- The right to request flexible working for parents and carers;
- The right to request remote working for all employees;
- Two years of breastfeeding breaks.
The bill also includes amendments to the Maternity Protection Acts which would allow transgender men who have given birth to access maternity leave.
Irish Congress of Trade Unions general secretary Owen Reidy said the legislation would make it easier for workers to combine their professional and personal lives.
“As well as legislating improvements to support working parents and carers balance paid work with family care, necessitated to give effect to EU law, the bill also introduces a new workers’ right to paid leave for victims of domestic violence and new rights for workers requesting remote work, both of which Ictu and affiliated unions campaigned for to bring us to this point today.”
While Mr Reidy welcomed in particular the domestic violence leave provisions, he said there was disappointment the legislation did not provide for 10 days' leave instead.
Women’s Aid said the paid domestic violence leave provision would give people the time to “access safety, advice and support” during one of the worst moments of their life.
Women’s Aid chief executive Sarah Benson said it was “vitally important” that this new leave is made as “safe and supportive as possible”.
However, Ms Benson did point out that the rate of pay during this leave has yet to be determined and this should be resolved quickly so there is no delay in this law coming into effect.
Mr O’Gorman added that Ireland is one of the first countries to introduce statutory domestic violence leave which will “support those who are victims of domestic violence to leave abusive relationships”.