In a decision earlier this year the Fair Work Commission (FWC) confirmed that all employees should have access to unpaid family and domestic violence leave.
Coming into operation from 1 August, modern awards will include a clause that provides for five days’ unpaid leave per annum to all employees (including casuals) experiencing family and domestic violence. This leave will be available in full at the commencement of each 12 month period (rather than accruing) and covers both full-time and part-time employees.
In the determination, the definition of family and domestic violence, and the reasons why an employee may take such leave, are relatively broad. Across the public sector, many agencies have already gone further than the entitlements laid out in this decision.
Whether or not you have employees working under a modern award, the need for managers to be aware of the impacts of family and domestic violence on and in the workplace has never been greater.
Family and domestic violence is a complex and pernicious issue having a significant impact upon economic productivity. A recent report estimated the cost of such violence to the Australian economy at $22 billion in 2015-16. A national workplace survey in 2011 found that nearly a third of respondents (30%) had personally experienced domestic violence. Half of those reported it had affected their ability to get to work. Consider these additional findings.
One in five (19%) experiencing domestic violence in the previous 12 months reported that the violence continued at work.
The major form of harassment was abusive phone calls and emails (12%) and the partner physically coming to work (11%).
The main reported impact was on performance, with 16% reporting being distracted, tired or unwell, 10% needing to take time off, and 7% being late for work.
From a workplace health and safety perspective, all managers (not just human resource practitioners) need to have some level of understanding of family and domestic violence and how to respond to its incidence in the workplace.
In running facilitated discussions on this topic I’ve repeatedly heard participants express a desire to help colleagues who they suspect may be the targets of such violence, but report having done nothing because they didn’t want to “make things worse.”
The good news is that you don’t have to be a clinician or social worker to understand barriers to disclosure, how to initiate a discussion on the topic or to understand what resources and services exist to help those affected.
To book an insightful and practical facilitated discussion and build your awareness and capacity in this area, please email or call us directly.