Legislation that will introduce statutory leave for victims of domestic abuse as well as the right to request remote work has passed through all stages in the Dáil on Wednesday evening.
The Work Life Balance and Miscellaneous Provisions Bill 2022 will now go to President Michael D Higgins to be signed into law.
The Bill gives effect to an EU work-life balance directive and makes a wide range of changes to existing employment and other law with provisions for leave to be taken for victims of domestic abuse and those needing to bring family members or others in their care for medical treatment.
The current entitlement to breastfeeding breaks will be extended from 26 weeks to two years.
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Minister for Children, Disability, Equality and Integration Roderic O’Gorman said once the Bill is enacted, Ireland will become one of the first European countries to introduce a statutory entitlement to paid leave for victims of domestic violence.
Mr O’Gorman said this represents “vital protection for those who are victims or domestic abuse and coercive control”.
“The Work Life Balance Bill, the Gender Pay Gap Act, alongside the extension of paid parent’s leave and our continued investment in childcare show that we are focused on putting the people of Ireland at the centre of our policies,” he said.
Owen Reidy, general secretary of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU), said the legislation delivers a “suite of measures” to make it easier for workers to “combine their professional and personal lives”.
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“Improved family leave and flexibility on when and how we work is good for workers and families,” he said.
“It is good for businesses who get to retain valuable and often highly-trained staff. It is good for society and for the economy too. It will help close the gender gaps in caring, pay and pensions. It is a win-win.”
Mr Reidy added that while Ireland was leading the way in bringing in paid leave for victims of domestic violence, they had to be paid “their full wage during absences”.
“Anything less risks putting them in further danger. It is disappointing that the leave is for only five days,” he said.
“Unions will continue to collectively bargain workplace agreements – all of which provide for 10 days paid leave.”