Domestic abuse and gender based violence victims who work for Neath Port Talbot Council could get up to five days’ paid “Safe Leave” if councillors approve a proposed new policy.
Under the policy, to be discussed by members of the authority’s Personnel Committee on December 2nd, Council staff under pressure from gender based violence or domestic abuse would be able to take time off to get the help and support they need for themselves and their families.
If adopted, Neath Port Talbot Council’s “Safe Leave” scheme would be one of the first of its kind in Europe and the UK. South Ayrshire Council implemented a Safe Leave policy earlier this year, the Scottish authority giving Neath Port Talbot valuable help and guidance over the scheme.
The proposal for Neath Port Talbot Council is that Safe Leave will be available to employees experiencing gender based violence or domestic abuse for reasons including but not limited to:
* Seeking Safe Housing
* Visiting legal advisors or support agencies for re-housing,
* Making alternative childcare arrangements, including meetings with schools, or other relevant appointments.
In addition to the proposed safe leave provision, managers may also receive requests for time off work from employees who are experiencing gender based violence or domestic abuse /violence to arrange appointments during the normal working day.
Under the new policy, these requests should be treated sympathetically in accordance with existing Council Policies.
Such appointments might including attending medical appointments and counselling, attending legal proceedings or receiving legal advice, making alternative childcare arrangements and going to meetings with schools.
Cllr Doreen Jones, Neath Port Talbot Council’s Cabinet Member for Corporate Services and Equality said: ”This is a very important issue. While someone may be smiling on the outside, on the inside they may be suffering and this could go some way towards helping some of our staff at a very difficult time.”
The proposal, if adopted, would be an extension of the Council’s existing Domestic Abuse Policy that aims to support workers experiencing gender based violence and/or domestic abuse and to raise awareness of gender based violence and domestic abuse.
A report to the Personnel Committee by Council Head of Human Resources Sheenagh Rees said: “There are a number of supportive options that could be backed by managers along with the provisions set out by the policy such as a temporary negotiated change in hours/times of work, where requested by employees experiencing gender based violence or domestic abuse/violence.
“Other schemes to be considered (among others) are a rehabilitation scheme, reduced hours working, flexible working, term time working, compressed hours, parental leave, annual leave and unpaid leave.”
The proposed Neath Port Talbot Council Safe Leave scheme follows New Zealand’s world leading Victims’ Protection Bill which was introduced in 2017 and requires employers to give victims of domestic violence a set amount of leave, separate from annual holiday and sick leave.