Labor moves to give employees ten days of paid domestic and family violence leave

Linda Burney

The Shadow Minister for Families and Social Services Linda Burney. Source: AAP/Danny Casey

Shadow Minister for Families and Social Services Linda Burney has introduced a private members’ bill to parliament, calling for ten days paid domestic and family violence leave.

“No one should have to choose between their livelihoods and their safety,” Burney said in parliament on Monday.

“This is why Labor is introducing this private members’ bill to provide for ten days paid domestic and family violence leave in the National Employment Standards.”

The bill seeks to change the National Employment Standards, replacing the current five days of unpaid domestic violence leave. The changes would mean that full-time and part-time employees would receive their regular rate of pay for the hours they would usually work, and casuals would get paid for the period they were rostered on for, with loadings.

The bill also emphasises an employees’ right to privacy, and obliges employers not to disclose if an employee has taken domestic violence leave.

The Labor Party is urging the federal government to support the bill through parliament.

“The simple fact is, at the moment, there are five days unpaid domestic violence leave. It is just not adequate for women and families who find themselves in this situation, which is a dreadful situation, to be able to keep appointments; perhaps change schools; in some cases, find new accommodation; and all through a very traumatic time,” Linda Burney told Sky News last week.

The ten days of paid domestic and family violence leave is the same policy that the Labor Party took to the last election, and would go some way to easing the burden of women and children trapped in a cycle of abuse.

Women leaving abuse or violence incur significant time and financial costs, Burney said. Finding new accommodation, seeking legal support, receiving medical treatment and enrolling children in new schools are all timely and costly.

“Paid domestic violence leave will contribute to cultural and attitudinal change and prompt us as a community to take more responsibility,” she said.

As it stands, many large employers already provide paid family violence leave, including Medicare, CUB, Telstra, NAB, Virgin Australia, IKEA, Qantas, and the NSW government.

“Preventing family violence is everyone’s business, and it is time for the Commonwealth Government to show leadership.”

According to Counting Dead Women researchers at Destroy The Joint, fifty women have been killed violently in 2020.

Frontline domestic violence specialists say the impacts of the pandemic have been severe for victims, trapping them in situations of abuse due to financial dependence, unemployment, and a lack of affordable accommodation.

If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault, domestic or family violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit https://www.1800respect.org.au/

For information about local services download the free Daisy App https://www.1800respect.org.au/daisy/

Accessible information and support is available via the free Sunny App which has been developed for and by women with disability https://www.1800respect.org.au/sunny/

For Aboriginal Family Domestic Violence Hotline, call 1800 019 123

For legal information, visit the Family Violence Law Help website: https://familyviolencelaw.gov.au

In an emergency, call 000.

This article was first published by Women’s Agenda.

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