People & Human Resources

Peter Strong: Why we need government-funded domestic violence leave

Peter Strong /

Domestic and family violence leave should be funded by government or the current leave provisions should be used.

Domestic violence is a private issue in many ways and now the management of it has become a public issue through demands for domestic violence leave (DVL) provisions for employees.

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

Domestic violence is a problem that must be addressed and eradicated. Any structured response needs to be from our broad society, not from individual employers who may also be victims.

The solution is not to have DVL in the workplace relations system – except where a company volunteers to do so as many big businesses and government agencies are doing through their enterprise agreements.

Instead, we should have a nationally provided system of DVL in the same way we have for paid parental leave (PPL). This reflects the fact that we face a societal issue, not a problem that is created by employers.

This proposal also gives the victims the option of maintaining privacy for a situation that many do not wish to share with those in the workplace, no matter how well meaning and supportive those people are and can be. This includes employers and work colleagues, but also includes friends and relatives. Domestic violence is difficult and many want privacy, not further complication.

We are proposing that the DVL system be managed by the experts in the field; the Domestic Violence Safer Pathway is the obvious choice for expertise and professionalism. There are many other agencies that provide expert support. This takes the onus away from individual employers who will not have the expertise to deal with this and indeed may be victims themselves. This also gives the victim potential access to leave without having to disclose to the employer the reason.

Individual employers have been shown to be already very supportive and along with co-workers, will do whatever is possible to assist. This includes providing time off, often paid for by the employer, and other employees contributing by working extra hard as a result, doing so without rancour or complaint. Why institutionalise good deeds? There seems to be very few or no cases of the opposite occurring.

There is no doubt that a scheme funded by employers fails any test of fairness when the needs of the self-employed are considered. An employer, a woman or a man, could be a victim of domestic or family violence, yet this is not acknowledged. Worryingly, these victims, who are employers, may be forced to find extra funds and extra time to manage the lives of others who are also victims.

There could also be an extra demand placed on employers in areas where there is a higher incidence of domestic violence. This could fall on some employers more unfairly than it does on others, which reflects the very issues around domestic violence.

There is also a school of thought that a more productive workplace is one where the employer cares for employees. That is obvious, but the problem becomes when that statement is extended to situations such as PPL and DVL. Asking a small business person to find extra cash or extra time to manage a government-imposed process or expense does not create productivity. It does the opposite as the employer and her or his family can become stressed. The employing person is asked to spend less time on running their business, less time with their own families and less money on their own necessities because some academics say so (these academics normally only study big businesses and often dance to the beat of big unions). Common sense should always apply ahead of false academic thesis.

We should not create greater complexity and more victims from domestic violence. That only makes the problem worse. This approach has the potential to embed the behaviour as something to be dealt with, not something needing to be stopped.

The best solution is to fund this through government and have it managed by the welfare sector. Then there is a greater chance of giving victims privacy and professional support, and it will help keep their job, and the jobs of others, more secure.

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Peter Strong

Peter Strong is chief executive of the Council of Small Business of Australia.

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  • helma Parkin

    I’m glad you stated woman and man as men are copping it in NSW and the Boss as well as the Police need to beleive it has happened not try and put the man through the cleaners only to suddenly realise that there blood all over the back of the chair and on looking at his body find he’s black and blue from being hit over the head and legs with a heavy frypan….Judges need to see the photos and not except the word of the woman and her solictor and the boss needs to also see the photos so the chap can get his life back and not be fired when he’s told the chap can’t work for a while.
    Wether it will happen for the men is something that will take a lot of pushing as far to many only beleive it happens to women

  • max

    YES Peter. Let us have DVL Domestic Violence leave added to the work day and equation of Industry logic, and also let us add an EDD Emotional Distress Day and also a SID Sleep In Day and also a GTSTWD Great Tv stuff To Watch Day and how about AGDTW day A Good Day To Walk Day.
    Maybe we should consider Employers pay money to all staff to stay at home for 364 days a year and call int the Office o the last day to collect their salary as long as the abide by OHS issues of booking a certified Cab (not Uber) with clean doors and seats so as to not catch a disease or dirty their hands and then sue the Employer etc etc.
    Whether it is Govt funded or not, it is payable by us-the taxpayers anyway as Government uses our money and it takes time away from the job, so who wears the pressures!

    If DVL is to be tie away from the job-then that individual gets to do this with whatever support they need BUT without pay.
    You are creating a huge minefield if this is ever introduced for other psychological issue to be invented.
    Already we are finding that females can and do manipulate the Parental leave and Pregnancy leave against an employer, so what was initially a great idea is being manipulate at the expense of jobs and pays.THis is actually a good thing as it allows lawyers to take on new cases and Government Depts. to add more staff to investigate!!

    Maybe humans should realize that political correctness, absolute stupidity on creating new leave pays and the fact that we are actually part of a global economy and should not be insular in our egos, should be considered.
    I have the utmost respect ad sympathy in negating ALL Forms of domestic violence against Men and Women and children but not at the expense of people jobs.
    When the Government and some others realize that the end user who pays is the consumer and such leave impacts on the viability of a Business ad our competitiveness in the world economy-the better.
    Let us work on resolving social issues WITHOUT THE NEED FOR PAID LEAVE and begin understanding that no company owes a person a job.
    A job or a profession is NOT an entitlement or a right -it is a privilege and must be respected by both sides.

    Get Parliament and Politicians to draw up stronger laws and have them suitably enforced PLUS amend the Westminster system written hundreds of years ago when no DNA or Electronics existed and have Lawyers accountable and liable for lying and defending absolute guilty humans , which will clean up our system. (e.g. THe Tassie Massacre, Th Oslo killings, ISIS supporters)
    Imagine if a Lawyer was advised that they would NOT get paid in defending a client who was notably and videotaped and DNA tested and absolutely guilty and they were to repay any monies incurred if they deliberately elongated a court case etc just to extract more monies!
    Imagine a world where we would save $70,000 to $100,000 per human who was in the high level Domestic Violence section by applying Capital Punishment and allocating that money (my money) into curing Aids or Cancer or any other disease rather than wasting it on humans on this earth who do not deserve time or a life or my tax money.
    Imagine a world where responsibility and accountability is owned by that individual and not passed off to a 3rd part drug or alcohol or semantic laden Barrister who is able to twist the english language or win a totally guilty Domestic Violence case based on a technicality ?
    Image fairness, equality and logic being introduced to our world that is becoming so dependent of Holiday, Sick, Parental, Pregancny, Animal caring, Stress, Middle Ear infection leave at the expense of jobs that insults the hard workers who just want to get on with a balanced life without politics and lawyers and extra rules invented!!

    Image that.
    .

    • Dex

      Imagine a world where an accusation does not need to be tested in court, where the state’s word is taken as gospel, where capital punishment is applied liberally and often…There is a place like that, it’s North Korea.

      As fair and equitable as you describe, no pesky human rights to worry about there.

  • Rohan

    At what point are we going to say that the tax payer (business and the individual) are not responsible for the actions of others?

    At what point do we say that the cost shouldn’t be burdened on all of society, but put squarely onto the shoulders of the convicted perpetrators?

    At what point do we make the criminal actions of other punishable by enforcing the existing laws and in addition placing all the financial burden onto them? Such as a cost they have to service through the taxation system until that debt is repaid? A user pays system that is exempt from bankruptcy so it follows them throughout their lives, including reduced social service benefits depending on the case.

    I’m heartily sick of the injustice to the victims through weak sentencing and then applying the cost onto society as a whole. You do the crime, you do the time, and then you foot the bill. No exceptions.

  • Philip Smith

    It appears the author failed to spot the contradictions in his own article. Example “This also gives the victim potential access to leave without having to disclose to the employer the reason.” Really – How ?

    Example 2 “The best solution is to fund this through government and have it managed by the welfare sector. Then there is a greater chance of giving victims privacy and professional support, and it will help keep their job, and the jobs of others, more secure.” Same question – Really – How ?

    I agree with Max, below, but he forgot – “Fist day” ( to do with the fact that it is still Thursday ) and “Poets day” ( deals with tomorrow being Saturday and we should leave early today ) .

    What a complete load of bollocks, stop wasting time and money, deal with the problem not the symptoms