Moves to establish leave provisions specific to family and domestic violence are gaining momentum with the Greens introducing a private members' bill into the House of Representatives.
The Fair Work Amendment (Improving National Employment Standards) Bill seeks to amend the Fair Work Act 2009 by adding family and domestic violence leave to the National Employment Standards (NES). Under the Bill, any employee who experiences family or domestic violence could take up to 10 days paid family and domestic violence leave per calendar year and two days of unpaid family and domestic violence leave for each permissible occasion.
The Greens Bill follows a pledge last December by Opposition Leader Bill Shorten that a future Labor government will amend the NES to provide for 10 days paid domestic violence leave for workers.
Despite a number of employers including Medicare, CUB, Telstra, NAB, Virgin Australia, IKEA and Qantas already providing paid family violence leave, the Bill faces opposition from the Government with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull previously ruling out matching Labor's pledge. The Government’s stated position is workers already have the right to access to up to 10 days paid personal leave while they or a family member is experiencing family or domestic violence.
The Government’s view has the support of the Fair Work Commission (FWC) which has considered submissions from industry groups and unions. It has also rejected a proposal by the ACTU for all workers to be provided a minimum of 10 days a year of paid family and domestic violence leave, instead preferring providing workers with a right to unpaid leave in awards and allowing workers who experience domestic violence to access their personal/carers leave.
Running contrary to the Greens Bill, the FWC is currently seeking feedback from those industry groups and unions who previously provided submissions, on model terms for unpaid family and domestic violence leave in modern awards developed in consultation with industry groups and unions.