NUI Galway to Launch First Domestic Violence Leave Policy in a Higher Education Institution in Ireland

May 24 2021 Posted: 13:09 CDT

NUI Galway will launch a Domestic Violence Leave Policy, the first Higher Education Institution to do so in Ireland. The policy will be launched by Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris TD on Wednesday, 26 May.

The purpose of NUI Galway's Domestic Violence Leave Policy is to provide for a period of paid time away from work for staff members who have suffered or are suffering from domestic violence or abuse. This leave will enable the staff member to take the time they need to seek assistance in a structured and supported environment.

Violence be it physical, sexual or emotional abuse by an intimate partner, family member or a child has significant consequences for physical and mental health as well as overall wellbeing. The World Health Organisation has documented the severe health consequences of interpersonal violence including premature death, long-term morbidity, poor mental health, increased risk of substance abuse, and risk with pregnancy outcomes among others.

Less recognised is the impact of domestic violence on the victim’s work. Research by economists in the US, UK and other European countries have established that women who experience domestic violence are at increased risk of absenteeism, more irregular work history, reduced performance at work, limited occupation mobility, dropping out of the labour force and ultimately lower earnings.

Globally there is a growing movement across various jurisdictions that the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion agenda must also address the consequences of domestic violence in addition to workplace harassment and bullying. The International Labour Organisation Convention on Violence and Harassment in the World of Work, to which Ireland is a signatory, explicitly calls for governments and employers to address the risks and impacts of domestic violence in workplace policies.

Higher Education Institutions are not only institutions of learning that contribute to knowledge on deep-rooted social problems such as domestic violence; they are equally places of work committed to creating a safe and respectful working environment that promotes dignity and wellbeing of all members of their communities.

Minister Harris commented: “The impact of domestic violence on victims and their families can be devastating physically and emotionally and their stress can be compounded by the worry of work or not being paid. Support for victims who are working, in the form of paid leave, could be crucial in ensuring that they retain their employment and have the economic capacity to escape an abusive relationship. 

“The introduction of the Domestic Violence Leave Policy at NUI Galway marks a critical step forward in ensuring that Higher Education Institutions are safe and supportive workplaces. I really want to commend NUI Galway for this important work and I hope it will be the first of many institutions to adopt such a policy.”

Speaking in advance of the launch, President of NUI Galway, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, said: “NUI Galway is proud to introduce this Domestic Violence Leave Policy, which aligns with our vision and values of respect and excellence of our students and staff as citizens connected to, and contributing to, community and society in Ireland and internationally for the public good.”

New research including that from the Centre for Global Women’s Studies at NUI Galway has quantified the impact of domestic violence on productivity loss with women on average missing 7 to 15 days of work and being less productive for an additional 5 to 10 days. An overwhelming majority of those who experience domestic violence globally are women, with 1 in 3 women reporting a lifetime experience of physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner. In Ireland, the equivalent figure is 1 in 6 (15 per cent of women). More women face emotional violence, and in Ireland, twice as many women experience a lifetime of emotional abuse by a partner (31 percent).

Annually, it is estimated that 50,000 women experience physical and/or sexual violence by a current or former partner and approximately 117,000 experience psychological violence by a current partner. During Covid-19 there has been a sharp increase by nearly 43 per cent in calls to organisations such as Women’s Aid and Safe Ireland.

Dr Nata Duvvury, Director, Centre for Global Women’s Studies at NUI Galway said: “More than 30% of women experience emotional violence in their lifetime by a partner, which affects women’s working lives leading to lower productivity and wellbeing. For example, women experiencing domestic violence miss on average 15 days of productive work on a yearly basis.”

Speakers at the launch will include Minster Harris, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh and Dr Nata Duvvury, NUI Galway, Louise O’Reilly, Sinn Fein TD for Dublin Fingal and Sinn Fein Spokesperson on Enterprise, Trade, and Employment, Professor Audra Bowlus, Department of Economics, University of Western Ontario, Canada, Josephine Hynes, HR Director, NUI Galway and Eileen Mannion, Interim Chair Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Committee, Údarás na hOllscoile, NUI Galway.

Read NUI Galway's Domestic Violence Leave Policy is available here. The online launch will take place on Wednesday, 26 May from 1pm-2pm and is open to the public.

To register to attend the launch visit: https://teams.microsoft.com/_#/broadcastPlaybackScreen.

The Office of the Vice-President for Research and Innovation have developed the first in a series of ‘research impact case studies’ modelled on the UK Research Excellence Framework. One of the case studies includes Dr Nata Duvvury on the impact of her work in the area of domestic violence. See: https://www.nuigalway.ie/researchcommunityportal/researchimpact/.     

 

 

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