This Monday, the Fair Work Commission’s landmark judgement entitled millions of Australians to afford 10 days’ paid domestic violence leave should they need it. This will be accessible yearly at the base rate of pay to 2.6 million people employed under modern awards.
This historic move is meant to set a precedent for Australian employers as alarming statistics reveal the prevalence of domestic violence - which has already claimed the lives of 18 women across the country so far this year. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare has also reported that one in six women and one in 16 men have experienced at least one incident of violence by an intimate partner since the age of 15.
The bench, headed by President Justice Iain Ross, deemed that financial support was imperative to support employees in leaving violent relationships and came at a minimal cost to most employers. It considered that 10 days’ paid FDV leave was “an emerging industrial standard in bargaining”.
“We accept that the introduction of paid FDV leave is not a panacea for the devastating effects of FDV. But it will provide a critical mechanism for employees to maintain their employment and financial security while dealing with the effects of FDV,” it said.
The leave will apply to permanent employees only. The bench also disputed claims from the Master Grocers Association that paid FDV leave would act as a disincentive to employing women, deeming the argument “mere speculation” and noting that such conduct would be wilfully unlawful.
It added that the next federal government, determined on Saturday, would need to decide whether to expand the paid leave to all workers under the National Employment Standards, covering an additional 8.44 million workers.