Media Release

17 June 2016

Domestic Violence Leave supported by employers, unions and McAuley

ACTU President Ged Kearney, Australian of the Year Rosie Batty and CEO of McAuley Community Services for Women Jocelyn Bignold call on the next government to ensure that domestic violence leave is enshrined in all modern awards.

The ACTU and McAuley Community Services for Women have made submissions to the Fair Work Commission asking for ten days paid leave and two days unpaid leave to be guaranteed through the award – submissions that have been supported by Ms Batty.

Protection for survivors of domestic violence through the provision of ten days paid leave and an additional two days unpaid leave has wide-ranging benefits for the employees affected by domestic violence, their employers and workplaces. This has been ratified by research conducted by the University of New South Wales, who found that the provision of domestic violence leave lead to positive outcomes for employers and employees.

By shielding survivors from the risk of losing their job as they seek legal assistance, find a new place to live and make other time consuming and complex arrangements to ensure their safety and the safety of their families, employers can play a pivotal role in ensuing long term positive outcomes for people affected by domestic violence.

Quotes attributable to ACTU President Ged Kearney:

“The Union Movement is at one with a growing proportion of employers, state governments and community groups that know part of the ongoing effort to assist people affected by domestic violence must include a clause in all modern awards that provides for Domestic Violence Leave.”

“The Australian Council for Trade Unions (ACTU) has been campaigning for this measure through submissions to the Victorian Royal Commission into Family Violence, and to the Fair Work Commission.”

“We recognise that allowing people affected by domestic violence time to ensure their own safety and the safety of their families, without having to balance the demands of work, is beneficial to both employer and employee, and beyond that is surely an expression of basic human compassion.”

Quotes attributable to McAuley Community Services for Women CEO Jocelyn Bignold

“Violence against women is not a private matter. It does not occur in a vacuum.”

“Some women have reported being performance managed out of their jobs because of reasons that related to their experience of family violence and the impact this had on their productivity at work, including being absent or not being able to focus on tasks.”

“Some were unsuccessful in their applications for new jobs because of a poor reference. Many ended up managing chronic illness or injury as a result of their experience of family violence. Consequently, it is my view that family violence is a workplace issue for the women themselves, their colleagues and their employers.”

Quotes attributable to Rosie Batty:

“Domestic Violence Leave would have made a big difference, the year before Luke was murdered by his father I spent multiple days in court,"

"Multiple days in court are stressful, tiring, I don't even know how many days I spent in court, but at least six or eight days, without any mandated leave.”

"I was also making statements to police, so again that was time taken out of your day, making statements and following up with other matters connected to these charges."

ENDS

Media Contact: Peter Green 0400 764 200

Key Facts:

The ACTU claim in the Fair Work Commission on domestic violence leave:

•The ACTU claim seeks to extend the right to domestic violence leave to all workers.

•The claim is for 10 days paid domestic violence leave for workers to attend court appearances, medical and legal appointments and make safety and re-location arrangements.

Key findings of the UNSW survey include:

•One third of respondents reported at least one domestic violence leave request in the past 12 months.

•Of those employees who requested domestic violence leave, 92% were women.

•The typical amount of leave taken was two to three days.

•One quarter of employers had received requests for alternate work arrangements, such as differing starting times, alternate car parking and change in phone numbers to improve their safety.

•Employers reported highly positive outcomes with raised workplace moral and employees feeling safe, supported and free from fear of losing their jobs.