Workers get unpaid family violence leave

The Fair Work Commission has rejected calls from unions to give workers 10 days' paid annual leave, instead opting for five days of unpaid time off.

Millions of Australian workers will be able to access five days' unpaid domestic violence leave a year after the industrial umpire rejected a union push for 10 days' paid leave.

The full bench of the Fair Work Commission made the ruling on Monday, saying unpaid leave would be available for people who couldn't deal with the impact of domestic violence outside their normal hours of work.

The new leave provisions are estimated to be available for 2.3 million workers on modern awards, but the federal government plans to boost that number through legislation.

The FWC rejected an Australian Council of Trade Unions claim for 10 days' leave which it was not satisfied would be necessary.

ACTU secretary Sally McManus said the decision would maintain a system which left women with nowhere to run.

"Millions or workers have been denied their rights today as a result of this broken FWC decision," Ms McManus said in a statement.

"It's completely unacceptable that women have to choose between abuse and protecting their children and keeping their job."

Workplace Minister Craig Laundy said draft laws would be introduced to parliament to extend the unpaid entitlement to a further six million employees covered by the Fair Work Act.

"We want to ensure a consistent safety net for employees covered by the national workplace system so we will amend the act in line with the final model clause to give other federal system employees access to unpaid leave on the same terms," Mr Laundy said in a statement.

The commission deferred a decision on whether employees should be able to access paid personal or carer's leave for the purpose of taking family and domestic violence leave.

Ai Group chief executive Innes Willox welcomed the "measured" decision, saying employers typically took a compassionate approach to giving time off for domestic violence.

"While different employers have different capacities to provide assistance to employees experiencing domestic violence, most employers are not likely to experience problems with what the commission has decided," Mr Willox said.

Labor promised last year to legislate for 10 days' paid leave if elected.

National domestic violence helpline: 1800 737 732 or 1800RESPECT. In an emergency call triple-zero.

2 min read
Published 26 March 2018 at 8:10pm
Source: AAP