Aldi Australia has become the latest business to unveil an expanded domestic violence leave policy amid a broader effort for employers to better support workers with policies which go above and beyond the law.
Late last week the German supermarket giant committed to providing its 12,000 full and part-time employees with access to 10 days of paid domestic violence leave.
An additional $250 will be offered for incidental expenses workers may incur as a result of family and domestic violence, while Aldi says it will help employees change work locations if necessary.
The move has been welcomed by advocates, including Rape & Domestic Violence Services Australia executive officer Karen Willis, who applauded Aldi for taking a leadership role on the issue.
“Through their policy, Aldi is making a strong statement that they are here to help any employee experiencing this terrible crime,” she said in a statement distributed by Aldi.
“The options available as part of this policy are exemplary, assisting employees to access relevant support as they need it.”
Going above and beyond
Following a Fair Work Commission decision earlier this year, all employers must offer at least five days of unpaid domestic violence leave to workers.
However, plenty of businesses have decided to go beyond that recently in a push to establish a standard across the corporate sector.
Last month Adore Beauty founder Kate Morris moved to double the domestic violence leave available to her staff, calling on SMEs to do more on the issue.
“We were trying to think of ways in which, as employers, we could move the needle for people in a really terrible situation,” Morris told SmartCompany.
“I genuinely hope no one on my team will ever be in a situation where they’d need to access the leave, but it’s about trying to do what you can to be supportive as an organisation.”
One in six women and one in 20 men over the age of 15 have experienced violence by a partner in Australia, 2016 ABS figures show.
Improving support for victims of domestic violence is a growing trend in the vein of understanding employees as people with lives outside their workplaces, HR expert Stephanie Reuss says.
“There’s an increasing trend of recognising people’s lives outside work,” Reuss, co-founder of recruitment firm Beam Australia, tells SmartCompany.
“Brands are recognising the need to treat employees as humans, providing a great supportive place to work regardless of what happens to them … it makes [Aldi] a more desirable place to work.”
The casual question
Ruess’ business partner Victoria Stuart says the needle on domestic violence support is moving, with the federal government last week announcing additional support for vulnerable workers.
Under a new plan unveiled by Minister for Women Kelly O’Dwyer last week, workers who experience domestic violence will be able to access their super early for additional support.
But the conversation will need to shift to casual staff and contractors, Stuart explains, as employers come to grips with the implications of the future of work and what that means for supporting people.
“It’s the whole future of work issue and how you manage a casual workforce, including what they’re entitled to versus permanent employees. I’m not sure anyone has solved that problem yet,” she says.
Reach out for domestic violence support by calling 1800 RESPECT or visiting reachout.com.
Update (3:10 PM AEDT November 26): A previous version of this story said Aldi had 1,200 workers affected by the policy change. The figure is actually 12,000.