The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) has today won a first-round victory to get working people access to paid family and domestic violence (FDV) leave.
Working people across Australia will soon have access to FDV leave after the Fair Work Commission (FWC) handed down a decision that unpaid leave should be available in modern awards, as a basic standard for all workers.
The FWC accepted the ACTU’s argument that FDV is a significant community issue, that it disrupts workforce participation, that it disproportionately affects women and that it requires a workplace response.
The FWC commission also applauded the ACTU for being an agent of ‘social utility’.
Unfortunately, the FWC stopped short of paid leave at this stage but it has left the door open for this in the future.
The FWC proposes to provide a period of unpaid FDV leave in modern awards, as well as access to personal/carers leave for FDV purposes.
MUA National Secretary Paddy Crumlin said: “The MUA is committed to domestic violence support and through enterprise bargaining has achieved paid leave in many workplaces across the country.
“Today’s decision is significant recognition that this is a workplace issue and the next step of the campaign to ensure paid leave for all Australian workers.”
Paddy noted that “the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) Women’s Department is working with a number of transport unions to develop the “Women’s Advocate” program that will be rolled out globally to assist more unions to implement workplace support for domestic violence. This program, started in the 90’s by Canadian union Unifor, provides women activists with the skills to support and negotiate on behalf of a survivor in their workplace. Our national women’s officer Mich-Elle Myers is a member of the ITF Women’s committee working on the rollout of this project.”
ACTU President Ged Kearney said: “The ACTU is disappointed that the FWC has not awarded paid leave at this time, but this decision is the first step in the fight to ensure working people trying to deal with or recover from family and domestic violence have both job and financial security.
“Australia will become the first country in the world to have a nationally enshrined right to family and domestic violence leave.
“The Australian union movement is at the forefront of changing the rules to make working people’s lives better and the FWC acknowledged this when it commended the social utility of the ACTU’s claim, but we acknowledge there is more to do in this critically important area.”
Myers paid tribute to the ACTU on the campaign and recognised that “The ASU have been crucial in the fight for Paid Leave, their campaign “We won’t wait” has had an enormous impact in raising the awareness in the community. The ASU have vowed to fight on and are disappointed in the decision.”
She continued “We will campaign with the ASU and the ACTU to ensure that the next decision gives women the assistance they really need, Paid Leave”
“The ACTU has put resources and a huge effort into getting domestic violence leave recognised and although it is not paid leave it will still assist domestic violence victims in being able to take time off work to attend to doctor or lawyer appointments, or moving to safe accommodation,” Myers said.
“Victims of domestic violence often lose their jobs because they have to take time off work and this will provide some comfort for them in what is clearly a time of need.”
“The fight is not over and we will to continue to work with our comrades in the movement to get paid leave”
“The MUA National Women’s Committee and the branches of our union turned out to events to support the campaign in addition to the unions contribution through the ACTU Women’s Committee.
“Something as simple as sharing your support on a petition, turning up to a rally or sharing support on social media has helped the campaign to prove that this issue is widely felt in the community and this made an impact with the Fair Work Commission.”
Members needing support should contact Hunterlink on the 24 hour hotline: 1800 554 654