GENDER: Council has responsibility for the health, safety and welfare of employees

By Bill Heaney

Council employees in West Dunbartonshire are being encouraged and supported to report Gender Based Violence (GBV) in the workplace.

Members of Corporate Services Committee agreed a new policy to raise awareness as well as ensure employees feel protected by offering confidential and sympathetic support to anyone affected by GBV.

The Policy reinforces the Council’s zero tolerance approach to domestic violence, encouraging and supporting employees to report concerns. All reports of GBV will be treated seriously with appropriate action taken against any employee whose behaviours breach the expected standard of a Council employee.

The Council recognises that although anyone can experience GBV, the overwhelming majority of people affected are women who suffer abuse of violence from a male perpetrator as a result of their gender. 

The policy also includes guidelines to address the behaviour of employees who may be or are perpetrators of GBV and who may pose a risk to others while at work.

Employees experiencing GBV can apply for up to 5 days leave, with pay.

Convener of Corporate Services, Councillor Daniel Lennie, said: “I am pleased to see this new policy approved as the Council recognises that as one of the biggest employers in West Dunbartonshire it has a responsibility for the health, safety and welfare of employees and also of our citizens. Any person experiencing gender based violence will receive confidential support and the new policy means they are entitled to take some  time away from work, which I’m sure will be a great help and support to our employees.”

Vice Convener of Corporate Services, Councillor Michelle McGinty, said: “Everyone has the right to attend their work without the fear of discrimination. The Council is committed to ensuring gender equality in the workplace and preventing violence against anyone.

“By increasing awareness of the signs of gender based violence and providing a safe and supportive working environment, the council is enhancing the many different welfare supports we offer to employees.”

Meanwhile,  Relationships, Sexual Health and Parenthood Education were being discussed in the Scottish Parliament.

Ross Greer (West Scotland) (Green) asked the Scottish Government how it ensured that the views and experiences of young people, in particular LGBTQ young people, were reflected in the new draft “Guidance on the Delivery of Relationships, Sexual Health and Parenthood (RSHP) Education in Scottish Schools”.

The Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, Jenny Gilruth, told him: “The views and experiences expressed by children and young people through the Young Scot and Scottish Youth Parliament reports on personal and social education have informed the work to develop the revised draft statutory RSHP teaching guidance.

“The draft guidance was influenced by the work of the LGBTI inclusive education working group and a wide range of other stakeholders.”

The Scottish Government is currently consulting publicly on the revised draft guidance. That includes specific engagement to gather views of young people on whether the revised teaching guidance meets their learning needs.

Officials will take account of that activity in developing the final version of the teaching guidance, which is due to be published in the new year.

Ross Greer revealed that he was on the then Education and Skills Committee which received evidence “from queer young people in particular, who told us that they had resorted to watching pornography to learn about sex because the education that they received in school was so poor and not remotely LGBTQ inclusive”.

He added: “The new draft relationship, sexual health and parenthood guidance is a vast improvement on its 2014 predecessor in relation to LGBTQ inclusion and key themes such as consent. That is to the credit of young people in groups such as the Scottish Youth Parliament and the Time for Inclusive Education campaign. LGBTQ young people were key to producing the draft, and having their confidence will be key to its successful delivery. How is the Government maximising opportunities for them to provide final feedback during the consultation phase before it is put into use?”

Jenny Gilruth, who was a teacher in a Catholic school prior to becoming an MSP, said: “I am grateful to Ross Greer for his support in the development of the revised guidance. As I mentioned, we are running an engagement project to gather young people’s views.

“The Scottish Youth Parliament and Young Scot will facilitate face-to-face sessions with representative groups of young people and run a survey to seek their views on the revised guidance. That will run in tandem with the public consultation and will be reflected in the final version of the teaching guidance, which will be published in the new year.

“LGBT young people are also encouraged to contribute where they can or to engage with representative organisations such as LGBT Youth Scotland, Stonewall Scotland or LGBT Health and Wellbeing to help them to contribute to the consultation.

“I was pleased to see some of the benefits of the TIE campaign’s hard work when I visited Castleton primary school recently. I was delighted to make a presentation to Castleton to mark its achievement of becoming the first school in Scotland to successfully and fully implement LGBT-inclusive education.

“I enjoyed seeing the young people’s pride in showing me how their school is an inclusive and supportive environment for all their pupils.

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