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UNION WIN: New paid Family and Domestic Violence Leave enshrined in legislation

Please be aware that the following content may have the potential to trigger some people. Contact 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) for assistance if required.

As of February 1 2023, ALL employees of businesses employing more than 15 staff have access to 10-days paid Family and Domestic Violence (FDV) Leave in a 12-month period, regardless of whether they work a 38-hour week, or fewer hours.

This entitlement is a long and hard fought win for unionists who have been campaigning for over a decade.

The entitlement will form part of the National Employment Standards (NES) which are a set of minimum entitlements for all workers in the (federal) Fair Work System.

Unfortunately family and domestic violence is not uncommon in our society.

“One in 6 Australian women and 1 in 16 men have been subjected, since the age of 15, to physical and/or sexual violence by a current or previous cohabiting partner (ABS 2017b).”

(Family, domestic and sexual violence in Australia, 2018, Summary – Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (aihw.gov.au))

On average it costs someone $18,000 to escape a violent relationship in Australia and economic security is a key determiner as to whether a person can escape a dangerous relationship. Paid Family and Domestic Violence Leave will save lives.

As a gendered issue, access to paid leave for education workers—70-80% who are women— makes an important difference to the lives of workers in our industry.

How does this affect your Enterprise Agreement?

Whilst most of our schools have already agreed to 10 days paid leave, there were a number that had been holding out. Large employers such as Catholic Education SA had resisted and only agreed to 5-paid days, have now been brought up to the societal standard. Even for those schools and sites with 10 days paid leave the new legislation provides a number of improvements.

Most notably:

  • The full 10-day entitlement to paid FDV leave is provided upfront to full time, part-time and casual workers.
  • Is paid at an employee’s full rate of pay (including penalty rates and other loadings and allowances).
  • Employers are prohibited from including information regarding paid FDV leave in a payslip, to ensure the safety and privacy of employees needing to take the leave.
  • Does not r style=”list-style: square; margin-left: 35px; color: #007bcd;”
    equire a worker to be actively leaving or attempting to leave a FDV situation.
  • Gives clear definitions as to what constitutes family and domestic violence and when someone can take leave:

The new provisions define family and domestic violence as:

  • Violent, threatening or other abusive behaviour;
  • By:
    • a member of the employee’s immediate family (as defined in the Fair Work Act Section 12); or
    • someone related to the employee according to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kinship rules; or
    • a member of an employee’s household; or,
    • a current or former intimate partner of an employee
  • That:
    • Seeks to coerce or control the emplolyee; and
    • Causes the employee harm or to be fearful.

When an employee can take leave?

Under the new provisions, an employee will be able to take paid FDV leave:

  • If they are experiencing family and domestic violence; and
  • Need to do something to deal with the impact of that family and domestic violence; and
  • It is impractical for them to do that thing outside of their hours of work.

This will mean that workers will be able to take paid FDV leave in a range of circumstances.  Family and domestic violence is defined broadly to encompass a wide span of behaviours by perpetrators.  The paid FDV leave provisions are designed to empower victim-survivors in responding to family and domestic violence in way that meets their needs. Examples of actions victim-survivors may need to take include:

  • Making arrangements for their safety, or the safety of a close relative (including developing a plan to leave, finding and moving to safe accommodation, putting safety plans in place in their children’s school, changing locks and telephone numbers)
  • Attending court hearings
  • Accessing police services and providing evidence to the police
  • Seeking medical treatment and attending medical appointments
  • Attending counselling
  • Attending appointments with financial or legal professionals and updating financial arrangements
  • Accessing Centrelink and other support and services.

A person is not considered to be on paid FDV leave during a public holiday or a period of paid personal/carer’s leave.

We acknowledge that members going through a FDV situation need a trauma informed/responsive approach.

Anyone experiencing Family or Domestic Violence can access 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) the 24 hour national sexual assault, family and domestic violence counselling line. (Further support services are listed below this article).

Members who need to access paid FDV may be distressed and suffering from Trauma.

All IEU staff have undertaken approved White Ribbon training to help us Recognise, Respond and Refer.

Our commitment to campaign for gender equality issues such as this remains.

IEU members should be confident they can contact their organiser for advice and support in relation to their workplace situation.

For a confidential discussion or consultation, contact our office on 8410 0122 or enquiries@ieusa.org.au

Meredith Farmer
Organiser. IEU(SA) Women and Equity Committees Coordinator.

Tim Oosterbaan
Branch Secretary.

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Other support services for those who are experiencing the impacts of family and domestic violence:

1800RESPECT – phone 1800 737 732 for sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling.

24 hour Domestic Violence Crisis Line on 1800 800 098 for crisis counselling, support and referral to safe accommodation.

Women’s Information Service – phone 8303 0590 for referrals to domestic violence services and for safety information.

Yarrow Place – phone 8226 8777 or toll-free 1800 817 421 (after hours 8226 8787) for services for rape and sexual assault victims.

Migrant Women’s Support Program (MWSP) work with migrant women and children of diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds in unsafe relationships – phone 81529260 or contact@womenssafetyservices.com.au

QLife services are free and include both telephone and webchat support, delivered by trained LGBTI community members across the country – phone 1800 184 527 or webchat counselling service for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex (LGBTI) people, families and friends from 3:00 pm to midnight.

Women’s Legal Service – phone 8231 8929 for free legal advice and information.