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Push for universal adoption of Domestic Violence leave

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As community awareness of the wide-reaching and damaging effects of domestic violence has grown, so has the number of organisations that provide domestic violence leave entitlements to their employees. A new category of leave which is separate from standard employee entitlements such as personal leave, carer’s leave and annual leave, domestic violence leave aims to provide relief for employees affected by domestic violence.

Employees who have domestic violence leave entitlements are able to use it to attend legal or medical appointments, appear at court or otherwise employ it to minimise the impacts of domestic violence on their work. Some 1.6 million employees are now estimated to have access to domestic violence leave Australia wide, which represents a twofold increase in the last two years.

The ACTU is now pushing for universal adoption of a policy that would give all employees suffering from the effects of domestic violence two weeks of paid leave (for permanent employees) or unpaid leave (for casual employees) in addition to access to flexible starting and finishing times to fight against stalking. The ACTU also hopes that that the initiative will help bring discussions about domestic violence out of the closet and into the public spotlight.

Unsurprisingly, the move is being resisted by employer groups who claim that the existing entitlements available to employees are adequate to deal with the effects of domestic violence and that employers should not be made responsible for carrying the financial burden of what they consider to be a more widespread community issue.

The ACTU’s proposal is tabled for review during the Fair Work Commission award review process.