Unpaid domestic violence leave ruling falls short for workers
While Australian workers will soon have access to unpaid family and domestic violence (FDV) leave, following a decision from the Fair Work Commission (FWC), the Commission’s decision falls far short of the 10 days of paid leave unions were seeking.
FDV is a significant community issue. It disrupts workforce participation and disproportionately affects women, which is why unions have argued it requires a workplace response.
Domestic violence is the leading contributor to death, disability and illness of women under 45 years old in Australia. Often the workplace is the only place where those affected spend significant time away from the perpetrator.
Paid leave would have provided crucial support for those suffering domestic violence, with financial independence a crucial factor for many in escaping violence in their homes.
According to recent modelling, the cost for employers of providing this crucial leave for all employees would amount to just five cents per worker per day.
Further, based on the experience of major employers (both private sector and public sector) who have already implemented paid FDV leave, the actual cost would likely be much lower.
Our sector leading the way on FDV leave
Due to the bargaining strength of IEUA-QNT members, many employees in our sector – particularly those in Queensland Catholic schools, Brisbane Grammar School and some community kindergartens – already have access to paid FDV leave under the terms of their collective agreements.
Our union Branch Secretary Terry Burke said these provisions set the standard for which other employers must follow.
“That the largest non-government employer in the education sector in the state can put in place these provisions for our members clearly puts the onus on others in the sector to do the same,” Mr Burke said.
“Access to domestic violence leave helps promote our schools as safe workplaces where employees can receive support and assistance if they are suffering from family violence.”
While the majority of IEUA-QNT members’ working conditions are covered through collective agreements, many do not have access to paid family and domestic violence leave.
The inclusion of paid family and domestic violence leave into Modern Awards would have provided a much needed safety net for all workers.
Time to ‘change the rules’ on workers’ rights: ACTU
Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) President Ged Kearney said it was time for the rules to change around workers’ rights and that in the case of FDV leave, unions would continue to push for paid leave for all employees suffering from violence in their homes.
“Australian Unions unequivocally demand that people experiencing family and domestic violence be guaranteed access to a minimum of 10 days paid leave to escape or resolve the violence they have experienced. Nothing less than a minimum of 10 days paid leave is acceptable,” Ms Kearney said.
“The rules for work are broken when making sure survivors of domestic and family violence can lead productive happy lives is somehow considered less important than saving employers a few cents per day. The rules need to change now.”
Read more on the ACTU campaign for paid FDV leave here.