Call for local authorities to give 'safe leave' to domestic abuse victims

Aberdeenshire East MSP Gillian Martin
Aberdeenshire East MSP Gillian Martin

Aberdeenshire East MSP Gillian Martin has called on North-East local authorities to follow the lead of a Scottish council by giving “safe leave” to employees who have suffered domestic abuse.

It comes after South Ayrshire Council announce it had become the first local authority in Europe to implement a policy for victims of domestic abuse.

At the SNP’s Autumn Conference in October last year, Ms Martin had put forward a resolution calling for paid leave for workers affected by domestic abuse.

Ms Martin also wrote to Minister for Older People and Equalities Minister Christina McKelvie calling for the Scottish Government to consider the move, and ask them to lobby the UK government who have powers over employment law to compel all employees to offer paid leave. The move was inspired by new domestic violence legislation in New Zealand.

Now, Ms Martin has written to Aberdeen City Council and Aberdeenshire Council calling on the local authorities to implement a similar policy.

Staff who are seeking help and support for themselves and their families will be given up to ten days of paid leave to do so.

The leave will allow employees to attend medical appointments and counselling, attend legal proceedings, seek safe housing and visit support agencies.

New Zealand passed its domestic violence victims' protection bill in July 2018, becoming the second country to adopt such a measure after the Philippines led the way in 2004.

Last year, the Scottish Parliament pass the Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Bill, which makes psychological abuse and coercive control in the home a criminal offence.

Commenting, Gillian Martin MSP said: “South Ayrshire have shown it is possible for a local authority to take the lead from New Zealand and implement a domestic leave policy in Scotland.

“Often victims of domestic abuse are forced to stay in a violent relationship because they simply cannot afford to leave. Providing ten days paid leave gives women and men the opportunity to get to a place of safety.

“Domestic abuse can have a horrific and long-lasting impact on victims and their children, and it is important we do all we can to end it.

“The Scottish Government has taken steps to strengthen the protections for victims, but we should always look to international best practice to see where we can do more.

“I am proud to see the work that’s been done by South Ayrshire Council and I would urge Aberdeen City Council and Aberdeenshire Council to do the same.”