Update: 1 February 2023
10 days paid Family and Domestic Violence Leave is now a workplace right for every employee in Australia – learn more about how the leave works.
This win comes off the back of a decade of campaigning by the union movement and activists. A decade which has seen us win change, workplace by workplace, agreement by agreement, then in Awards, and now, in the National Employment Standards.
We need to make ten days of paid family and domestic violence leave a reality. This is the call from the Australian Council of Trade Unions as the Fair Work Commission conducts a review into Family and Domestic Violence leave entitlements in modern Awards.
Under current workplace law, five days of unpaid leave is the standard for victims of family and domestic violence.
Only one third of Australian employers offer paid leave, leaving many women without. One in six women experience domestic and family violence, which extends beyond physical violence, and can include emotional abuse, coercion and financial control.
It can happen to anyone.
A registered nurse at St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne has described paid leave as a “game changer”, particularly for women who report concern about job security and finances as a major barrier for fleeing violence.
And some employers agree. Micah Projects CEO Karyn Walsh AM states that dedicated paid family and domestic violence leave allows employees to, “act on their safety plan in an organised and timely manner, reducing the disruption to work and home.”
“Addressing family and domestic violence is key for closing the gender pay gap as women who experience violence are more likely to fall behind in their career into low-paid and casual work, or out of the workforce entirely,” ACTU President Michele O’Neil says.
10 days paid Family and Domestic Violence Leave for 2.23 million award dependant workers is critical but would only be the beginning; it’s time for Mr Morrison to stand up for women’s safety and ensure all workers have access to this leave in the National Employment Standards.
But the Morrison Government has refused to support paid family and domestic violence leave. This is one of the reasons that women are on the back foot in Australia.
Women earn less, have less super, face harassment at work, and crucially, are more likely to be victims of family and domestic violence.
These issues worsened during the pandemic, with domestic violence figures surging and sexual assault nearly doubling between 2020 and 2021.
It’s no wonder support for Morrison is low among women.
Support is always available
Call 000 if you, a child, or another person is in immediate danger.
1800RESPECT: Call 1800 737 732 if you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault, domestic or family violence.
No to Violence Men’s Referral Service: Call 1300 766 491 for anonymous and confidential telephone counselling, information and referrals for men.
Kids Helpline: Call 1800 55 1800 for 24/7 counselling for Australian children and young people.
Q Life: Call 1800 184 527 for anonymous and free LGBTQIA+ peer support and referral.
Why can’t women just use their other leave?
Working women already have to rely on annual and personal leave to cover time off for things like caring duties, menstrual pain and menopause. They shouldn’t have to factor in the financial consequences of taking unpaid leave in order to be safe.
Why is it so important that leave is paid?
It costs to leave, that’s simple. These costs include utility set up, childcare, rent and moving fees.
And it takes time. Time searching for properties, packing belongings, attending court hearings; time for talking to counsellors and teachers and making new childcare arrangements.
The hidden toll exceeds ten days of paid leave, but it’s the bare minimum to ensure that women aren’t further disadvantaged when escaping a dangerous situation.
In a country where one woman is murdered by a partner or family member every week, it is indisputable that paid leave could save lives.
What can you do about it?
Time and time again, Australia has seen Scott Morrison refuse to accept responsibility for his failure to take action when needed.
We are telling Morrison that he can’t walk away from women again. Women deserve better. Australia deserves better.