In a landmark decision 3 weeks ago, the Full Bench of the Fair Work Commission decided to provide five days’ unpaid leave per annum to all employees (including casuals) experiencing family and domestic violence which is defined as violent, threatening or other abusive behaviour by people who are, or have been in an intimate relationship.
Whilst the final model will be released 1 May, it does signify a significant change in Australian employment awards. In their ruling, the Full Bench introduced this change by saying:
- Almost 2.2 million Australian women have experienced family or domestic violence, or 1in 4
- Domestic and intimate partner homicides represent the highest proportion of any category of homicides in Australia.
- At least one woman a week is killed by a partner or former partner.
- Family and domestic violence is the leading contributor to death, disability and ill-health among Australian women aged between 15 and 44.
See sources for statistics here.
Fair Work also acknowledged such violence not only affects those who suffer it, but the children who are exposed to it, extended families, friends and work colleagues. The commission also acknowledged that while men can, and do, experience family and domestic violence, such violence is a phenomenon that disproportionately affects women. This leave will be open to all.
Whilst the final model will be released on 1 May, in addition to updating company policies and informing all your Managers, we see this as an opportunity to further highlight this issue through education. It is important to remove any stigma regarding domestic violence, the causes and impact, and importantly inform staff as to the support available through this significant change.
We encourage Work Health and Safety and Learning and Development departments to align this change to an education campaign to continue to raise the profile of this serious issue and help reduce those alarming statistics.
For more information on the ruling, click here.