Push for all bosses to provide paid domestic violence leave
HAVING 10 days of special paid leave could be the difference between life and death for working Australian domestic violence victims.
Research shows about 1.4 million Australia women have been abused by an intimate partner and about 800,000 of these victims and survivors are in the paid workforce.
Economics experts put the cost of domestic violence to Australian business as $609 million a year and most of this financial impact is because of lost productivity.
Unions and domestic violence professionals are pushing for government, industry and community leaders to back a push for Australia-wide 10-day mandated paid leave.
On Thursday, they stepped up the pressure by protesting at NSW State Parliament, calling on Premier Mike Baird to voice his support for enshrining domestic violence leave in the National Employment Standards.
Activists want every state leader to show they support the DV leave call, by raising the issue at the Council of Australian Governments Summit on Reducing Violence against Women and their Children later this month.
A number of high-profile companies including Telstra and KPMG Australia have rolled out DV leave and the Australian Council of Trade Unions is running a test case in the Fair Work Commission for the introduction of mandatory paid leave for victims.
Australian Services Union NSW secretary Natalie Lang told ARM Newsdesk that adding domestic violence entitlements to the National Employment Standards would ensure every working victim was supported during times of crisis.
"The NES sets a minimum base of conditions and these cannot be bargained away - these are universal conditions,” Ms Lang said.
"Issues as important as domestic violence leave must be enshrined like other leave entitlements like long service leave, annual leave and sick leave.
"This means it will be protected for the most vulnerable workers, but also it's about changing community attitudes towards family violence and gendered violence.”
However, not all employers are keen to see special DV leave being made available to all Australian workers.
The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry CEO James Pearson said there was no need to mandate for DV leave because ”employees can draw from personal and carer's leave”.
”In my experience employers typically work sensitively with employees experiencing domestic violence, often voluntarily granting time off work, access to leave and other arrangements,” Mr Pearson said.
”Many businesses have formal arrangements to support employees impacted by domestic violence.
”But not all businesses have the capacity to honour a new category of leave.”
A spokesman for the NSW Premier said Minister for Women Pru Goward would meet with Unions NSW to discuss domestic violence leave but that the National Employment Standards were "a matter for the Commonwealth Government”.
"Here in NSW Public Service agency employees are provided with access to certain leave entitlements to enable and support victims of domestic violence to enter and return to the workforce,” the spokesman said.
"Employees are able to access certain leave entitlements and where those entitlements are exhausted the employee shall be granted special leave.”
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said, "National consistency when it comes to this issue is very important. As part of the Queensland Government's comprehensive response to domestic and family violence prevention and employee support, employees affected by domestic violence have access to a minimum of 10 days paid leave per year, and many Queensland companies also offer leave. We encourage all Queensland employers to support their employees who are affected by domestic and family violence. Support options include counselling, flexible work arrangements, workplace adjustments and paid leave.”
- For 24-hour support phone Queensland's DVConnect on 1800 811 811 or MensLine on 1800 600 636, NSW's Domestic Violence Line on 1800 656 463 or the national hotline 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732).
- ARM NEWSDESK