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Domestic Violence Leave: Industry welcomes Vice President Watson's decision to reject Union claim

"Industry welcomes today's decision of Vice President Graeme Watson to reject the unions claim for paid domestic violence leave in all awards,” Innes Willox, Chief Executive of the Australian Industry Group said today.

"Vice President Watson was the Presiding Member of the Full Bench of the Fair Work Commission in the case. The reasoning in the decision is very sound and persuasive, and hopefully the two other Members of the Fair Work Commission Full Bench will adopt similar reasoning when they hand down their decisions.

"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.

"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.

"As stated by Vice President Watson: [143] The ACTU claim does not mandate an open, positive, considerate and collaborative approach and nor can a uniform award provision be expected to do so. A right to take leave without prior approval for a myriad of different purposes and with uncertain parameters may do more to undermine trust than promote it. If an employer is not aware of the underlying problem, and is not part of developing an appropriate solution to the problem, it is less likely to see the benefits of its employees taking paid leave. If employees seek to take paid leave for purposes which are regarded as having a tenuous link with actual physical violence, the entitlement may lead to a deterioration in workplace relationships. Such implications will not provide greater fairness to employees or employers.

[144] In my view the grant of a new form of leave in itself will have uncertain consequences. A better approach is to build awareness of the issue and to encourage a considerate, collaborative and flexible approach by employers and affected employees.

"The union claim, if granted, has the potential to undermine the positive steps being taken by businesses to deal with this most important community issue," Mr Willox said.

Vice President Watson's decision

Ai Group's submission 

Media Enquiries: Tony Melville – 0419 190 347