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IEU Speaks…. Family and Domestic Violence Leave

Paid Family and Domestic Violence Leave

Why It Is Needed Why We Won’t Wait

 97% of people living with violence are women and children.

65% of people who experience domestic violence are in the workforce.

One woman each week dies as a result of domestic violence.

 Family And Domestic violence is more than just statistics.  It is about the lives of women and children.

We know the statistics about domestic and family violence.  We read them each day in our newspapers, see the figures on social media, and listen to the stories on current affairs.

But family and domestic violence is more than just statistics.  It is about people. It is about the immediate and future safety of women and children.

It is much easier to survive and escape violence if you have money.

Women who are working are more able to survive a violent home life.  They have the financial means to escape a violent situation.

Work can provide women with space where they know they are safe.  It allows them to talk with others and come to an understanding that there is an escape from the violence.

Many women are forced out of paid work because of violence.

Many women resign, or terminated from their jobs, because they need to take time off work to deal with injuries to themselves or to their children.  They need time to attend appointments with counsellors, police, or real estate agents.  They may not be able to attend work as they have been prevented from leaving the house by the perpetrator of violence.

Women are unable to undertake the activities associated with making safe arrangements for themselves and their children when their financial security is under threat.

Paid Family and Domestic Violence Leave is needed.

Paid family and domestic violence leave is essential for working women who are living with violence;

  • While they are living with violence;
  • At the time of preparing to leave a violent home life; and
  • At the time of escape from a violent home life; and
  • After a woman has left a violent home life.

Why Paid Family and Domestic Violence Leave is needed  when a woman is living with violence

In many cases, a woman living with violence will have used all her available leave entitlements because:

She would have had to take time out to deal with her own injuries or those of her children.

The perpetrator may not have allowed her to leave the home.

She may have needed to attend the school counsellor, or the hospital.

She may have needed to take time off so that her children are not left alone at home with the perpetrator.

All of these incidences will diminish what little paid leave a woman might have accrued.

Why Paid Family and Domestic Violence Leave is needed when a woman is preparing to leave a violent home life

Planning to leave a violent situation takes many appointments with police, housing department, Centrelink, refuge staff and counsellors and other agencies.

Before a woman is able to leave a violent relationship, she will need time to organise:

  • A safe place to live;
  • A safe place for children to attend school;
  • Legal advice;
  • Transport so they can continue to work;
  • Transport so they can leave the violent household;
  • Paying bond on the new rental property;
  • Paying bond on utilities – gas, electricity, telephone at the new home;
  • Childcare; and
  • The purchase of new household goods and school goods.

When a woman takes time off and does not deliver her expected income to her violent partner, this will often exacerbate the violence and alert the perpetrator to the fact that she is seeking assistance.

Paid Family and Domestic Violence Leave allows a woman to continue to have an income while taking time off work to make arrangements thereby, not attracting attention from the perpetrator.

Why Paid Family and Domestic Violence Leave is needed at the time of escape from a violent home life.

The nature of domestic violence means that there can be a serious incident which happens without warning.

In such situations, a woman may need to:

  • Have injuries or the injuries of their children documented for evidence by the Police Forensic Medical Unit;
  •  Attend court; or
  • In situations where ADVO with exclusion conditions are issued, suddenly be responsible to pay all rent, utilities, food etc, without any time to prepare.

Why Paid Family and Domestic Violence is needed after a women has left a violent home life

Once a woman and her children have left a violent home, paid leave is needed to;

  • Unpack into the new home;
  • Settle children into the new school;
  • Attend childcare, schools, sporting clubs to discuss safety arrangements;
  • Meet with police/lawyers/counsellors to provide statements, records and medical evidence;
  • Attend many Family Court proceedings and other appointments to deal with access and related issues.

The rules of work are broken for survivors of family and domestic violence. 

It is unjust for a woman experiencing domestic violence to lose their job because of insufficient paid leave.

Paid family and domestic violence leave is the only way to ensure that a woman has the opportunity to leave a domestic violence home life.

There is no reasonable argument for denying paid domestic family and violence leave to women living with violence

 Change is happening . Workplace by workplace.  But it is not fast enough.

IEU members understand why paid domestic violence leave is needed. 

It is a fact that some IEU members have achieved specified industrial provisions within their collective agreement which details the care and practical support, including paid leave, available to members experiencing family and domestic violence. 

In some cases, these collective agreements even include support to those employees who support a person who is experiencing domestic violence.

These collective agreement provisions have been successfully achieved through strong membership activism when negotiating working conditions. 

 However, the sad reality is that there remains a substantial number of staff in non-government schools and in other workplaces across Australia, who do not have access to paid family and domestic violence leave.  More needs to be done.

 It is time to change the rules of work

Like every social change – superannuation, paid parental leave, penalty rates, workers compensation, sick leave, anti-discrimination legislation, anti – slavery legislation – it takes courage and commitment from union members to demand leadership from the Government to change the rules.

We need strong, legislative provisions for paid family and domestic violence leave, so that all workers who are experiencing violence in their home life can be protected.

Paid Family and Domestic Violence Leave must be included in the National Employment Standards

The National Employment Standards are the minimum employment entitlements that must be provided to all employees.

The National Employment Standards ( NES) covers all employees in national workplaces, regardless of any Award or Enterprise Agreement or employment contract.

No workplace can exclude an NES condition.

That is why Paid Family and Domestic Violence Leave must be included into the NES as all employees will then have access to the provision.

Action is needed now. We won’t wait. Women can’t wait.

It is time to tell our political leaders that 10 days paid domestic violence leave is vital and must form part of the National Employment Standards.

 IEU members are asked to sign the petition below calling for the inclusion of 10 days paid domestic violence leave into the National Employment Standards.

Make Paid Family and Domestic Violence Leave a certainty for all. 

 We won’t wait because women can’t wait.