Four things to know about family violence leave

1. The ACTU has argued that family violence leave is necessary to protect employees.

The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU), which represents workers in Australia,last year took a test case to the Fair Work Commission to try and get 10 days of paid DV leave for all workers around Australia.

Victims of DV sometimes need time off (for example, to find safe housing or medical care or attend court or police stations) – but this can be difficult for working women who fear it will jeopardise their jobs. Often, employees don’t feel comfortable telling their bosses about the abuse, and some employers have fired women because of “unexplained absences” that were actually due to DV.

We know that financial independence is an important step to escaping an abusive relationship, and having DV leave in workplace agreements would let victims take time off– without losing their jobs.

2. The Commission rejected the push for paid domestic violence leave.

On July 5, the Fair Work Commission gave its decision. It rejected the push for paid DV leave, saying it was “not satisfied” paid leave was necessary, or that it would outweigh potential disruption to the workplace.

3. Unpaid leave will be recognised, though.

But the Commission did say it was “necessary” to have up to 10 days of unpaid leave.

So, the good news? Australia will have the first national family and domestic violence leave in the world. All workers will have access to domestic violence leave as a basic right.

4. The fight’s not over.

The ACTU says it will continue pushing for greater reforms.

In the meantime, other organisations have made progress with DV leave in other ways. For example, the Australian Education Union has recently won a “best practice” clause, which includes 20 days of paid leave for educators dealing with the effects of DV. And some large companies, including PwC, NAB and Qantas, already offer paid domestic violence leave, too.

But experts say DV leave alone isn’t enough to support victims. Employers also need “some structures… training and some conversations around that leave” such as training for senior employees or having a point person in the human resources department whom victims can consult in confidence, Moo Baulch, the chief executive of Domestic Violence NSW told the New York Times.

If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic violence, you can call the 14/7 national counselling helpline, information and support service on 1800-RESPECT (1800 737 732).