The objection of employers group, IBEC, to the introduction of a specific category of paid leave for workers who are the victims of domestic violence has been strongly condemned by SIPTU Deputy General Secretary, Ethel Buckley. Addressing the SIPTU Services Division Biennial Delegate Conference in Kilkenny today (Wednesday, 5th October), Buckley said: “I was sick to my stomach to read this morning that IBEC believe there would be ‘potential abuse’ of paid leave for the victims of domestic violence. This attitude towards people at a hugely vulnerable and potentially volatile time in their lives is deeply insulting and so out of touch with reality. “Well hear us loud and clear IBEC. SIPTU stands with the victims of domestic violence. We trust these victims. We believe the workplace should be a safe space, a place where the stigma and the shame can be left at the door. Financial independence from abusers is the key to escaping and building a better life. Workers should not need to prove abuse to an employer.” She added: “Domestic violence is suffered silently by many and is under-reported because victims fear negative social judgement. The legalisation that the Government has committed to introduce on paid leave for domestic abuse should not impose barriers for those who wish to regain control of their lives. For instance, there should be no requirements for proof which would discourage take-up of the entitlement. “Furthermore, confidentially at the workplace should be assured so that victims know that they will be supported and treated sensitively if the come forward.” Tomorrow (Thursday, 6th October) morning, SIPTU representatives, including Buckley, will attend the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Gender Equality, during which the proposed legislation giving victims of domestic violence a right to paid leave is expected to be discussed. The Government is currently proposing the introduction of a right to five days paid leave annually for domestic abuse victims, to assist them in making essential changes such as moving out of a violent situation, seeking legal support and organising care for dependents. SIPTU has voiced its support for the legalisation but has called for ten days paid leave rather than five. The SIPTU Services Division Biennial Delegate Conference is taking place today and tomorrow in the New Park Hotel in Kilkenny City.