Australia grants 10 days of Family and Domestic Violence Leave to 2.66 million workers

An employers association said they intend to study the decision carefully

Australia grants 10 days of Family and Domestic Violence Leave to 2.66 million workers

About 2.66 million workers across Australia will now be able to enjoy 10 days of paid Family and Domestic Violence Leave (FDV) following a historic decision from the Fair Work Commission (FWC).

In the FWC's landmark decision, it said that paid FDV will provide "significant assistance" to those suffering from family and domestic violence.

"Such leave helps individuals to maintain their economic security; to access relevant services, and to safely exit to a life free from violence," the FWC said.

It also pointed out that the introduction of FDV will benefit employers, which are already "paying the cost" of FDV through increased absenteeism and lost productivity.

"Paid FDV leave will assist in reducing the cost," read the FWC's lengthy decision on the matter. "But the evidence before us is insufficient to quantify that benefit with any level of confidence or to conclude that the benefits would 'largely offset' the cost."

The FWC's provisional decision will cover full-time and part-time employees but will not be eligible for casual employees.

Read more: Unions push for 10 days of paid family and domestic violence leave

Unions, employers react

Unions across Australia welcomed the decision by the FWC, but it is pushing for the next administration to expand the 10-day paid leave to all employees.

"This is an historic win and a generational achievement for millions of women who have fought for this against the resistance of this and previous coalition governments," said Michele O'Neil, president of the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU), in a statement.

"Already this year 18 women have been killed by their current or previous partner. Access to paid family and domestic violence leave saves lives. No worker should ever have to choose between their income and their safety," the official added.

ACTU is now pushing for the introduction of the paid leave into the National Employment Standards, which are the minimum entitlement for employee across Australia. Introducing this to the NES would cover another 8.4 million workers under the paid FDV leave, according to the union.

Opposition leader Anthony Albanese has already committed to expanding the FDV leave, and ACTU is now calling on Prime Minister Scott Morrison to do the same.

"Scott Morrison must now match the commitment already made by Anthony Albanese to ensure that any of the 11 million Australian workers covered by the NES who needs to escape violence has paid leave to protect their homes and income while they protect themselves and their families," said O'Neil.

"We call on Scott Morrison to follow the historic lead of the Fair Work Commission, reverse his previous opposition and to confirm that he will do his part to ensure that every Australian worker has access to this life saving entitlement."

Meanwhile, the national employer association Australian Industry Group (Ai Group) said that it intends to review the FWC's decision carefully, as the commission invited interested parties to make further submissions on its provisional views.

"Ai Group intends to study the decision carefully, consult our members and make further submissions to the Commission over the coming weeks," said Ai Group chief executive Innes Willox.

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