Staff get five days paid leave to access support
A new policy at Neath Port Talbot Council is enabling staff who are victims of domestic abuse to gain support during the working day rather than having to sacrifice their pay or annual leave.
The local authority is the first one in Wales to introduce five days of paid “safe leave” – providing the chance for people to access practical support ranging from medical, legal or financial advice, to organising child care and finding alternative accommodation.
Earlier this week, the Welsh Government urged other councils to follow Neath Port Talbot.
Neath Port Talbot Council’s cabinet member for community safety and public protection Leanne Jones said it’s of vital help to victims.
She said: “Safe leave gives people that opportunity to access support they need during their working day rather than going out in the evenings when it might trigger their partner to ask questions.
“In Neath Port Talbot, 18,000 people have experienced some form of domestic abuse.
“In England and Wales, two women a week are killed by a current or former partner and in every class that starts school, one in five children will be witnessing domestic abuse at home.
“We’ve got to remember that domestic abuse is not just physical, it can take many forms such as emotional, financial, coercive and controlling behaviour.
Cllr Jones said the local authority had introduced the policy as a response to Welsh Government legislation – the Violence Against Women, Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence (Wales) Act 2015.
She said: “This all stems from the 2015 act.
“As part of it, we have rolled out a staff training programme to raise awareness of the legislation and we encourage members of staff to come forward and receive the relevant support.
“We also urge local employers to develop their own policies for workplace employees – we have provided training to over 30 local employers.”
The local authority has worked closely with South Ayrshire Council in Scotland which was understood to be the first local authority in Europe to adopt the safe leave provision.
It was inspired by legislation first approved by the New Zealand Parliament.
Cllr Jones said: “We’re extremely proud to be leading the way in Wales.
“It’s been received very positively by staff.
“And it’s getting people talking about domestic abuse, it’s opening people’s eyes that it’s not a taboo subject anymore.”