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Australian Council Rejects Paid Leave for Recovering Victims of Domestic Violence

Domestic violence takes a heavy toll on both one’s physical and mental states. Unfortunately, we see too many victims suffering from the long-lasting effects of domestic abuse.

As stated on Australia’s OurWatch website, “Violence against women and their children takes a profound and long-term toll on women and children’s health and wellbeing, on families and communities, and on society as a whole.”

So it comes as a surprise that the Australian Council of Trade Unions’ Fair Work Commission has just rejected the proposal for paid domestic violence leave for victims of abuse. This decision goes for all current workplace agreements but has left the door open for unpaid leave.

The FWC believes that leave is necessary for victims to properly deal with domestic violence, but evidently not paid leave.

“We have … formed the preliminary view that all employees should have access to unpaid family and domestic violence leave,” the decision states. “And, in addition we have formed the preliminary view that employees should be able to access personal/carer’s leave for the purpose of taking family and domestic violence leave.”

Carer’s Australia provides unpaid care and support to family members and friends who have a disability, mental illness, chronic condition, terminal illness, an alcohol or drug addiction, or who are frail and aged.

The claim was put forward by the Australian Council of Trade Unions as part of the review of modern workplace awards given every four years.

However, the commission now wants to convene to hear submissions on unpaid leave and accessing personal or carer’s leave for family violence reasons.

Research undertaken by the Australia Institute’s Centre for Future Work suggests that only about 1.5% of women and 0.3% of men are likely to use such leave in any given year if it were available. The CFW has released a paper on the opportunities to sustain and expand manufacturing jobs in Australia.

Jim Standford, the director of the CFW, stated, “The cost of doing nothing is enormous, since domestic violence imposes an ongoing economic burden every day on all segments of society, including governments and employers.” He continued, “The extra payroll costs associated with extending this provision are so tiny they can hardly be measured.”

It is clear that there would be many benefits to workplaces helping victims of domestic violence, such as reduced absenteeism and staff turnover, and improved productivity.

Domestic violence is a universal problem, and helping those who fall victim to abuse should be a top priority. When we see things such as rejection of paid domestic violence leave, we are reminded of how often victims are being penalized for something that is completely out of their control.

Featured Image by Giuseppe Milo on Flickr
Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

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