Paid Domestic & Family Violence Leave – what workplaces need to know
October 18, 2022 | By June Williams, Vitil People Solutions
On July 28, 2022, the Albanese Government introduced legislation into Parliament to provide ten (10) days of paid leave for victims of family violence. The new bill acknowledges that Domestic and Family Violence (DFV) is also a Perth workplace issue impacting on employee’s productivity, mental health, wellbeing and safety that HR professionals and business owners need to be across.
Why is this important?
It now appears that the introduced bill may go through in the current draft and this leave will encompass all businesses in and outside the NES and Modern Awards and could be paid leave.
What is Domestic and Family Violence?
DFV is any behaviour, in an intimate or family relationship, which is violent, threatening, coercive or controlling, causing a person to live in fear.
DFV occurs in all types of personal or family relationships, or intimate partnerships and care arrangements. The primary victim-survivors are women and their children.
Some sobering statistics:
- One woman every week is killed
- One in four since the age of 15, has experienced violence by an intimate partner
- Cost to the economy is estimated to be $22bn over one year (2015-16)
A recent survey sent out to SMEs conducted by MyBusiness revealed that when asked if an employee had ever observed DFV in the workplace, over 50% of respondents had witnessed a colleague as being a victim or survivor. This is not an issue outside of business only and it is part of our society.
For those that had suspected or observed a colleague, they were asked if they intervened. Whilst genuinely concerned about the wellbeing of their work colleague, many just did not know how to start that conversation or how to help and therefore, were unable to intervene.
What is the impact on the small businesses
- Significant loss of revenue
- Significant loss of productivity
- Abusers 'rocking' up to the workplace
- Safety concerns
What can Employers do?
Businesses do not exist outside of society; they are part of it and to support and assist a survivor/victim an employer can:
- Provide a safe work environment that promotes respect and gender equity
- Provide opportunities for employees to disclose their experience of DFV and seek support, if they chose to and avoid pressuring employees to talk about DFV if they do not want to
- Provide information to employees of where to seek help and a confidential meeting space at work to discuss matters
- Proactively learn about DFV and recognise the complexities of what an employee may be experiencing and what those next steps may entail and how to support them
- Understand the importance of privacy and confidentiality, and recognise the period leading up to and after a victim-survivor leaves, can be a high-risk situation in terms of their safety
What provisions do we have now and what will this legislation look like?
What we have now
- Unpaid DFV leave already exists under the NES:
- A Bill has been introduced for ten (10) day paid leave
- Eligibility and purpose remain broadly the same
- The employee may take paid family and domestic violence leave if:
- The employee is experiencing family and domestic violence; and
- The employee needs to do something to deal with the impact of the family and domestic violence; and
- It is impractical for the employee to do that outside the employee’s hours of work
Proposed new legislation
NES Bill gives rise to a new form of paid leave which:
- Is accessible by all employees including casuals who have been 'rostered' eg. have accepted an offer to work
- Is available 'upfront' meaning the leave does not accrue and is available in full (ie. 10 days of pay) at the commencement of every year
- Is payable at the rate that the employee would have earned had they worked instead of taking the leave (instead of being payable at the base rates)
Proposed operative dates
- February 1, 2023 all other businesses
- August 1, 2023 for Small Business
How will your company take this up in your workplace?
Culture will be key
- Empathy, confidentiality, support, privacy, and training
- Know your chain of command, who to go to, what do they say?
- Have support services at your fingertips – know who to refer to
- Don’t ask too many questions
- Be consistent
- The minimum will be what is prescribed/provision in the NES – can your company do better
- Moving the dial – this is about shifting the burden from the victim
Does this provision apply to abusers?
No, this is not the intention – this is for victims and survivors.
Where to get help
- 1800 RESPECT or 1800 737 732 (national counselling helping, support and information)
- National Violence and Abuse Trauma Counselling and Recovery Service 1800 FULL STOP (1800 385 578) or chat online at www.fullstop.or.au for 24/7, free confidential counselling
- Men’s Referral Service 1300 766 491 for men, or friends and family of men using violence
- Women’s Domestic Violence Helpline 1800 007 339 (provides support for women with or without children, who are experiencing FDV in WA including referrals to women’s refuges)
- Crisis Care: 1800 199 008 (provides WA’s after-hours response to reported concerns for a child’s safety and wellbeing and information and referrals for people experiencing crisis)
Vitil Outsourced Human Resources Consultants
Vitil People Solutions is a boutique HR consulting firm based across Perth and Australia, who offer flexible, reliable and affordable outsourced human resource support, people solutions and recruitment services, where your team is the key focus. Our experienced professionals can objectively assess your environment and help with change implementation.
Contact us to discuss tailoring HR solutions to your business needs.Back to news headlines