"The bill to provide 10 days domestic violence leave tabled in Federal Parliament today recognises the importance of taking action to address the scourge of domestic violence in our community. However, the Government's Bill reflects a significant departure from the approach proposed by a Full Bench of the Fair Work Commission in its recent decision proposing the introduction of a new paid leave entitlement," Innes Willox, Chief Executive of the national employer association Ai Group said today.
"In the lengthy Commission proceedings, employer parties had opposed the ACTU’s claim for such an entitlement, citing concerns over the cost to employers, particularly small employers. Ai Group had called for a publicly funded scheme to be introduced instead.
"Ultimately, the Commission did not grant the ACTU’s claim but instead proposed a different and much more balanced and workable paid domestic violence leave scheme.
"The proposed legislation departs from the carefully considered approach proposed by the Commission in various ways that undermine its workability and reasonableness. It instead adopts elements similar to the ACTU proposal that the Commission had rejected.
"The Bill should be amended to reflect the sensible and considered views of the Commission.
"Unlike the approach adopted in the proposed legislation, the Commission envisaged that the new 10-day entitlement should apply to permanent employees rather than casuals; be calculated on a pro-rata basis for part-time workers; and should accrue progressively during an employee's first year of employment unless an employer agreed to grant it in advance.
"The Commission also proposed that employees should be paid their base rate of pay when accessing the leave. This is the approach taken when an employee accesses personal / carer's leave. The Bill would instead require employers to pay employees amounts including penalty rates, overtime rates and various allowances when they access the leave.
"This Bill will be much more costly for employers than the approach proposed by the Commission and there are significant questions about how the rate of pay that must be provided to an employee could even be calculated in practice.
"If the legislation is implemented, it is important to also recognise that the scourge of family and domestic violence is a complex and insidious problem that can’t be addressed by simply imposing new obligations on employers to provide additional paid leave.
"Any new entitlement should be underpinned by public funding for industry training programs to help employers to recognise and best assist employees experiencing such trauma," Mr Willox said.
Tony Melville – 0419 190 347