Unions WIN 10 days paid family and domestic violence leave!

After years of tireless effort and advocacy from union members like yourself and community activists, the Fair Work Commission (FWC) recently decided that workers covered by modern Awards should have access to 10 days paid Family and Domestic Violence leave. This will cover 1 in 4 workers in Australia.

Now, the newly elected Labor Federal Government has also committed their support to implementing all 55 recommendations of the Respect@Work report, which includes mandating access for ALL workers to 10 days paid family and domestic violence leave as part of the national employment standards.

This leave will make it easier for Australian workers to leave abusive relationships by helping to reduce the financial obstacles.

It is incredibly difficult to leave an abusive relationship, and the financial burden is one of the key obstacles that can make it impossible to leave. To draw on supports and services like the justice system, health professionals, banks, etc most people need to access domestic violence leave from work which is currently unpaid (they need on average 141 hrs and 18K total to leave), according to research by the Australian Services Union.

Every week on average a person murders their intimate partner. The vast majority of perpetrators are men and the vast majority of victims are women.

The tireless work of unionists and activists like you have created a safer future for Australians. You have helped empower people who are trapped in dangerous and life-threatening situations to escape. Thank you to all those who supported the #wewontwait campaign over the last four years and prior.

ETU national women’s committee leader Ellen McNally is proud of the result after years of efforts.  

“I think this is a momentous step for many workplaces, not just for ensuring greater obligations to making sure workplaces are safer but supporting people to make home a safer place to be for everyone too.” Said Ellen.

Unions have been fighting to include this leave in their agreements for over a decade in the absence of government action. Transgrid in NSW was the first to have an ETU Enterprise Bargaining Agreement that mandated paid domestic violence leave in 2010. This was followed by Endeavour Energy.

in 2021, ETU members sent in photos of empty work boots with a 5c coin to represent the missing workers affected by family violence and the 5c per day it would cost employers to provide 10 days paid family violence leave.

Every day unions also support members who have been sexually harassed at work: two in three women and one in three men have experienced it according to an Australian Unions survey in 2018.

The landmark Respect@Work report’s 55 recommendations will now be implemented to create stronger rights to eliminate sexual harassment.

Key elements include:

  • A clear prohibition on sexual harassment supported by a proper complaints mechanism.
  • A positive duty on employers to take proactive steps to eliminate sexual harassment, rather than just waiting until things go wrong.

To read more of the recommendations of the report, click here.

This article was publised on 30 May 2022.