By Danielle Galvin
After a decade long campaign, millions of Australian workers will have access to a new right to 10 days of paid family and domestic leave.
The unions say it is a victory for Australian women, who have been historically forced to choose between staying in a violent, abusive home or going to work.
The change came into effect on 1 February.
All employees can use 10 days paid leave to flee a violent relationship which, on average, costs $18,000.
At least seven million employees who work for large or medium businesses – including casuals – will have access to this new entitlement.
Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations Tony Burke said paid family and domestic violence leave was overdue.
“Workers should never have to choose between their safety and wages,” Minister Burke said.
“Paid family and domestic violence leave is a workplace entitlement that will save lives.
“The measure will allow victims of family violence to take time off work without losing income and without losing their jobs.”
Measures introduced with the legislation also prevent any mention of family and domestic violence leave on an employee’s payslip.
Small businesses have an extra six months to adjust to the change, meaning the start date for those employees will be August 1.
Millions more workers will be able to access the entitlement then.
Minister for Social Services Amanda Rishworth said it’s a significant step.
“For a long time we’ve assumed family and domestic violence is something that just affects someone’s home life and is something that happens outside of the workplace. But we know it has a huge interface with work,” Minister Rishworth said.
“One woman dies every ten days in Australia at the hands of their former or current partner – these women are often employed and are in our workplaces.
“Employers have an increasingly important role here. The connection with work, the payment of wages, is really important in keeping stability in the lives of those experiencing violence when they are attempting to leave a domestic violence situation.
Professor Kate Fitz-Gibbon, the Director of Monash Gender and Family Violence Prevention Centre, said it’s a key step in building more effective and accessible workplace supports for domestic violence victim-survivors.
“Experiences of violence impact victim-survivors’ engagement in work and also their performance and career progression.
“Access to 10 days paid leave provides important recognition that employers have a responsibility to support victim-survivors during and in their recovery from violence.
“Paid domestic violence leave provides important recognition in workplaces across Australia that employees may need time off work if they are experiencing any form of domestic violence.
“This legislation will contribute to creating a safe and supportive workplace environment for Australians who experience domestic violence.“
She said it was imperative that the new leave entitlement goes alongside a number of other workplace supports for victim-survivors.
“This legislation is a key component of the important role that Australian workplaces can play in addressing the national crisis of violence against women.“
** BREAK OUT BOX**
According to Australian unions, these are your rights:
– Full time, part time and casual workers will have access to 10 days paid leave regardless of whether they work a 38-hour week or fewer hours.
– Unlike annual leave and sick leave, you don’t need to wait for the leave to accumulate. The full 10 days are available as soon as you need it.
– There are rules to make sure your information is kept private and if you use Family and Domestic Violence leave, it won’t show on your pay slip.
– If you work full time or part time, you can take paid Family and Domestic Violence leave at your full pay rate for the hour you would’ve worked if you weren’t on leave. For casual employees, you’ll be paid at your full pay rate for the hours you were rostered to work in the period you took leave.