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South Ayrshire Council is to offer ‘safe leave’ to those who have experienced domestic abuse.
A Scottish Council is believed to be the first local government in Europe to offer additional leave provision to employees who are victims of domestic abuse.
Councillors at South Ayrshire Council agreed a new ‘safe leave’ policy this week – inspired by New Zealand’s Domestic Violence Victims Protection Bill. It will give employees paid time off to get the help and support they need for themselves and their families.
The policy will be incorporated into the Council’s Special Leave Policy, providing employees experiencing domestic abuse with up to 10 days’ paid safe leave, which can be used as required – based on the individual person’s needs.
The leave will support employees to attend medical appointments and counselling; attend legal proceedings; seek safe housing; and visit support agencies. In addition managers will be trained to watch out for signs of abuse so they can help employees who may be in a violent or controlling relationship. South Ayrshire Women’s Aid will provide guidance on which warning signs to look out for.
Councillor Peter Henderson, Portfolio Holder for Resources and Performance, said: “Giving abused employees access to up to 10 days’ safe leave, where they can take the time off they need to access help and support without the worry of it affecting their finances or using up their annual leave, will make a real and lasting difference that could help change lives forever.
“And just by making that support available, it could help give employees the confidence to ask for help and take the first steps towards a safer life for them and their families.”
South Ayrshire Council also stands out for other progressive policies, including additional paid maternity and paternity leave for parents of premature babies.
Hazel Bingham, Manager of South Ayrshire Women’s Aid, added: “I would hope South Ayrshire Council’s approach is embraced not just by other local authorities, but by businesses the length and breadth of the country, so that safe leave can become a reality for everyone who needs it.”