Every worker should have access to leave for domestic violence, Australia's peak union body says.
In its submission to the Victorian Family Violence Royal Commission, the Australian Council of Trade Unions believes leave will allow victims time to attend court, seek legal advice and potentially relocate.
ACTU president Ged Kearney said a "significant number" of the 350,000 women who experience abuse each year are members of a union or employed in a unionised workplace.
"By providing domestic violence leave, employers are helping send the message that family violence must not be tolerated or swept under the carpet," she said.
The ACTU has a claim before the Fair Work Commission, backed by Australian of the Year domestic violence crusader Rosie Batty, to give 10 days' paid domestic violence leave to permanent staff and 10 days unpaid leave to casuals.
"Our claim (with the Fair Work Commission) will ensure that all employees have access to a stand-alone paid leave entitlement," the ACTU's submission found.
Employees experiencing domestic violence are likely to have exhausted their paid leave entitlements and are forced to choose between losing their job or putting themselves at risk, the ACTU says.
"Having a job and financial stability is critical for women to escape a violent and abusive relationship," Ms Kearney said.
The 2011 National Domestic Violence and the Workplace Survey found only a third of 3611 respondents reported incidents of violence to police.
The ugly numbers
- 39 women have been killed by their male partner in Australia this year, according to Destroy The Joint.
- Over 1.6m employees can access paid domestic violence leave in union-negotiated workplace agreements.
- Domestic violence costs the economy $16.8b each year.