Bill Shorten promises 10 days paid domestic violence leave

The Australian, December 5, 2017

Bill Shorten will today promise to legislate for 10 days of paid domestic violence leave if Labor wins the next federal election, doubling the pledge he made before the previous poll.

Following a concerted campaign by unions, the Opposition Leader will promise to insert 10 days’ paid domestic and family ­violence leave into the national employment standards.

Mr Shorten said Labor was committed to making domestic and family violence leave a “universal workplace right to further support those in our community suffering from this scourge”.

The Fair Work Commission rejected the ACTU claim for 10 days’ paid domestic violence leave in July. Employer groups that opposed the ACTU claim are expected to oppose Mr Shorten’s commitment, and argue against the expansion of the safety net.

Opposition workplace relations spokesman Brendan O’Connor said Labor had doubled the amount of paid leave to be made available because it recognised the need to improve workplace support for survivors of family violence.

Forty-five women have been killed this year as a result of domestic violence.

“We’ve listened to victims, frontline workers, business, and organisations that deal daily with domestic violence,’’ Mr O’Connor said. “Their clear message is that people who have experienced domestic violence need more support in the workplace.”

Australian Industry Group chief executive Innes Willox has said the only country known to have national paid domestic violence leave was The Philippines.

Mr O’Connor said the combined stress of seeking legal advice, accessing counselling services and medical treatment should not be “compounded by fear of losing your job or the financial disadvantage of going without pay”.

“For businesses, including this leave as a workplace right will prevents loss of productivity, and increases employee retention and reduces unpredictable absenteeism,’’ Mr O’Connor said.

He said a number of big ­employers provided paid family violence leave, including Medicare, CUB, Telstra, National Australia Bank, Virgin Australia, IKEA and Qantas. “Labor also acknowledges the contribution Australia’s unions have made in advocating for paid domestic and family violence leave,” he said.

Mr O’Connor said the ALP would work with business, unions and other stakeholders about how the policy would be implemented. “Labor understands that the complexity of family violence requires a strategic approach by all levels of government, business, and the community,’’ he said.

Mr O’Connor accused Malcolm Turnbull and Employment Minister Michaelia Cash, who is also the Minister for Women, of vacating the field on domestic ­violence.