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Domestic Violence Leave should be dealt with at the Enterprise Level – One size does not fit all

"Many participants in the public debate about domestic violence leave fail to recognise that employers have different capacities to provide support to employees who experience domestic violence in their personal lives. Many large employers have policies to assist affected employees. Smaller employers often do not have formal policies but they typically adopt a reasonable and compassionate approach when their employees suffer genuine hardships," Ai Group Chief Executive Innes Willox said today.

"The unions' "one-size-fits-all" claim for all awards to be varied to give each employee an entitlement to 10 days paid leave per year is not appropriate.

"Domestic violence is a community problem and the whole community has a role to play in addressing it. Many businesses are participating in worthwhile community initiatives and are implementing policies to assist employee victims, particularly larger businesses. The unions' claim has the potential to undermine the positive steps being taken by businesses to deal with this most important community issue.

"The hearings in the Fair Work Commission's Family and Domestic Violence Leave Case took place over a three week period between mid-November and early December. Ai Group is playing a leading role in the case on behalf of employers. The decision of the Full Bench is now reserved.

"The ACTU's proposed award clause is very poorly drafted and would lead to a raft of problems and inequities. The definition of domestic violence is very vague and the purposes for which leave can be taken are very vague. For example, a person who is listed in an employer's casual pool and is only called in to work infrequently would be entitled to 10 days of paid leave from the employer, even if they had not worked for the employer recently.

"Paid domestic violence leave is extremely uncommon internationally. The only country that is known to have paid domestic violence leave at a national level is the Philippines, but the entitlement is not well-known or well-enforced.

"Only a minority of enterprise agreements include domestic violence provisions. These agreements contain a wide variety of different arrangements, leave and non-leave. Most of those that contain leave entitlements contain less than 10 days of leave, with many providing unpaid leave entitlements, or access to existing personal/carer's leave entitlements.

"The ACTU's "one-size-fits-all" claim is not appropriate," Mr Willox said.

Media Enquiries: Tony Melville – 0419 190 347