The SDA takes family and domestic violence very seriously. We have already negotiated clauses in enterprise agreements on this important matter. The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) is taking a test case on behalf of all unions for a clause about family and domestic violence to be included in all modern awards.
The ACTU’s claims includes 10 days’ paid leave per year and an additional two days’ unpaid leave per occasion. The new entitlement will make it easier for survivors of family and domestic violence to remain in paid employment and manage stressful and time-consuming tasks like finding a new home and attending court.
Research into workplaces that already have family and domestic violence leave in place shows it has significant benefits for the employees affected by domestic violence, as well as their employers and workplaces.
The ACTU’s case is supported by a wide range of interest groups, including the National Retail Association, the Victorian Government and the Human Rights Commission.
The ACTU claim includes a number of provisions that ensure the leave is accessible to employees in practice, operates fairly, and is workable for businesses.
In summary, the proposed modern award clause provides that:
- For the purpose of accessing the proposed leave entitlement, family and domestic violence is defined as any violent, threatening or other abusive behaviour by a person against a member of the person’s family or household (current and former).
- The employer must provide employees with referral information about specialist support services.
- The employee must give his or her employer notice as soon as reasonably practicable of their request to take leave. Note that this will not necessarily require employees to provide notice in advance of using the leave.
- The employee must provide evidence that would satisfy a reasonable person that the leave is for the purpose of attending medical appointments, legal proceedings, legal assistance, court appearances, counselling, relocation, the making of safety arrangements or other activities associated with the experience of family and domestic violence.
Such evidence may include a document issued by the police service, a court, a doctor (including a medical certificate), district nurse, maternal and child health care nurse, a family violence support service or lawyer, or a statutory declaration.
- The employer must take all reasonable measures to ensure that any personal information provided by the employee concerning an employee’s experience of family and domestic violence is kept confidential.
The ACTU’s case commenced in the Fair Work Commission on Monday 14 November. On the first day of hearing, domestic violence campaigner Rosie Batty joined ACTU President Ged Kearney and Victorian Trades Hall Council Secretary Luke Hilakari in a union rally outside the Fair Work Commission from 9.00am to demonstrate public support. The SDA attended the rally in support of the ACTU’s case.
ALP Federal Leader Bill Shorten has committed that a Labor Government will insert a legal right for family and domestic violence leave into the National Employment Standards of the Fair Work Act. This will ensure all workers subject to family and domestic violence will have access to the entitlement.
We will keep you informed of progress.
In The Meantime, The SDA Can Help
If you, or a family member you are supporting, are experiencing domestic violence and it is impacting on your work, the SDA can:
- help you to gain information about – and access to – your entitlements;
- assist you in trying to negotiate flexible working arrangements;
- speak to management on your behalf regarding the impact of the domestic violence at work;
- assist in developing a safety action plan with your employer if necessary.
Contact us if you need any help or advice.