Disappointing news in the fight for paid domestic violence leave


We Won't Wait campaign 

On Monday this week, the Full Bench of the Fair Work Commission (FWC) ruled that Australian employees covered by modern awards will be entitled to five days of unpaid leave if they are affected by family or domestic violence.

Unions led by the ACTU and the ASU have been fighting for ten days paid leave.

In the decision, the Full Bench of Fair Work Commission acknowledged the depth of this complex and tragic social problem and highlighted that:

  • One in four women in Australia have experienced family and domestic violence (almost 2.2 million women).
  • Domestic and intimate partner homicides represent the highest proportion of any category of homicides in Australia.
  • At least one woman a week is killed by a partner or former partner.
  • Family and domestic violence is the leading contributor to death, disability and ill-health among Australian women aged between 15 and 44.

Disappointingly however, the FWC opted for a conservative regulatory approach and decided to provide five days’ unpaid leave to employees experiencing family and domestic violence and rejected the provision of paid leave which unions have been fighting for.

The Turnbull government has since said that it will introduce legislation into Parliament so that other federal system employees, not just those covered by modern award agreements, would be able to access the same leave entitlement of unpaid leave.

The decision of the FWC and Turnbull's proposal simply does not go far enough. Working women need time and financial independence to make themselves and sometimes children safe, and unpaid leave does not provided this.

As previously reported, the Labor party has pledged that it will legislate the ACTU’s claim for 10 days paid domestic violence leave if elected at the next election.

The ACTU and the ASU have committed to continue the fight for paid domestic violence leave.

To read the ACTU media release follow this link:

Turnbull Government Family & Domestic Violence Leave plan not enough time and no money

To read a summary of the FWC decision follow this link:

FWC Decision