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The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) has recently announced that it had made its closing arguments before the Fair Work Commission’s hearings that would assess the need for 10 days of paid family and domestic violence (FDV) leave.
The move was reportedly made to benefit 2.23 million award-dependent workers and is part of the ACTU’s larger effort to ensure that all workers have access to the said leave under the National Employment Standards.
The ACTU presented research to the FWC that demonstrated that women who have experienced FDV are “more likely to end up in lower-paid and casual work,” adding that they are “at risk of unemployment, financial stress, homelessness, and poverty.”
Data also showed that escaping violence could cost, on average, $18,000, noting that economic security is the “primary factor” that a person subjected to FDV contemplates whether they can escape a dangerous relationship or not.
The ACTU backed their evidence with frontline and community sector workers, all explaining why paid leave is “essential to enable people to access critical medical, legal, financial, emergency housing, safety planning, relocation, and counselling services.”
“Paid FDV leave is now even more urgent, with FDV services reporting a 62 percent increase in the number of clients accessing their services since the pandemic began,” the ACTU said in a media release.
“1 in 4 women in Australia have experienced some form of family and domestic violence since the age of 15, marking a national emergency that cannot continue to be ignored by [the government],” ACTU President Michele O’Neil said.
“Addressing family and domestic violence is key for closing the gender pay gap as women who experience violence are more likely to fall behind in their career into low-paid and casual work, or out of the workforce entirely,” O’Neil added.
According to ACTU’s media release, experts have estimated that the cost of providing 10 days of paid FDV leave to award covered workers is “not likely to be high, compared to the benefits.”
“At 0.04 cents per hour worked, 10 days paid FDV leave represents a very low cost for employers, which is likely to be largely offset by the productivity gains of retaining staff, enhanced firm reputation and other benefits,” the ACTU said.
As of date, the federal government has not made a submission to the FWC’s hearing.