Politics

Labor pledges domestic violence leave rights for all workers following the lead of Australian businesses

Eloise Keating /

A Labor government would expand the National Employment Standards to include five days of paid domestic and family violence leave, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten announced this morning.

Coinciding with White Ribbon Day, Shorten said domestic and family violence leave should be a universal workplace right.

He praised several prominent Australian businesses that have introduced such leave policies, including Telstra, NAB, Virgin Australia and Blundstone Books, which collectively employ 1.6 million employees.

“These employers have paved the way and helped reduce the stigma that often accompanies domestic violence,” Shorten said, according to Sky News.

Shorten said the Labor Party would work with businesses and unions to roll-out the policy should it win office at the next election.

Technology company Konica Minolta is one of the latest local employers to adopt a domestic and family violence policy, with the Australian operations rolling out its policy to its more than 500 employees today.

Developed in conjunction with the University of New South Wales Gendered Violence Research Network and the Women’s Legal Service Queensland, the policy will provide paid leave, flexible working arrangements and an employee assistance program to workers who are in or are seeking to leave a family or domestic violence situation.

Konica Minolta said in a statement the policy will also apply to employees who are supporting a person who is experiencing domestic of family violence and to perpetrators who seek assistance.

UNSW experts will work with a group of Konica Minolta employees who will then become the company’s “go to” people for other individuals seeking help.

All employees have also been given packets of seedlings, which they are being encouraged to plant and grow as a symbol of hope.

“Konica Minolta has a responsibility as a medium-size company to impact the social situation by increasing awareness and publicity in a genuine way, to help both victims and perpetrators,” said Cindy Reid, director of people and culture at Konica Minolta.

“Social responsibility is a fundamental part of our DNA.

“We are a company that cares deeply about out people, our customers and the wider community. It would be remiss of us to overlook domestic and family violence as a workplace issue, particularly in this context.”

Reid told SmartCompany this morning the policy is about contributing to a cultural change at Konica Minolta.

“We want to support our people to be the best as holistic people; they will be happier and more productive and we will all enjoy the work we are doing.”

Reid says Konica Minolta will provide five paid days of domestic and family violence leave to employees and these workers will not be forced to use up all their other leave beforehand.

“These people need their personal and carers leave, their annual leave, and so to make them exhaust that leave first seemed unfair,” she says.

Reid says the company’s employees have welcomed the policy roll-out this morning, sending her emails about how much they appreciate what Konica Minolta is doing.

“All the of the people we have nominated as ‘go to’ people to support anyone who needs help have said they feel very honoured to be asked to provide that support,” she says.

“So they will all come to Sydney next Wednesday for dedicated training.

Reid says the policy is about making sure employees know that if they are ever in need, the company is there to support them.

“We talk about being a company that cares and it is an initiate such as this that brings that home,” she says. 

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Eloise Keating

Eloise Keating is the editor of SmartCompany. Previously, Eloise was news editor at Books+Publishing, the trade press for the Australian book industry.

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