Queensland unions back DV leave and say it should go national

Queensland unions have welcomed the state government’s commitment to ten days paid domestic violence leave for affected public sector workers and say federal Labor should follow its lead.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk today announced the state government will offer all public sector workers an extra 10 days paid domestic violence leave.

Queensland Council of Unions General Secretary Ros McLennan said the federal Labor Opposition’s commitment to legislating domestic violence leave provisions was a start to addressing this society-wide issue.

Ms McLennan said the estimated annual cost of domestic and family violence to the Queensland economy is between $2.7 billion and $3.2 billion*, and more than $13 billion nationally.

“White Ribbon Day marks a day to observe the tragic impacts of domestic violence and resolve to do something about it,” Ms McLennan said.

“Five days as proposed by federal Labor is a start but ten days as just announced for Queensland public sector workers would provide more practical support for affected workers across all  industries,” she said.

ACTU – and QCU – policy is for a minimum 10 days paid domestic violence leave a year, as required.

The current ACTU claim in the Fair Work Commission is for all workers to receive 10 days paid leave. Paid leave offers support for employees across the range of issues that arise through domestic and family violence - such as urgent medical care, legal appointments or making sure their children are safe and secure while keeping their jobs. 

Ms McLennan commended the state government’s effort to be a model employer in tackling domestic and family violence.

“It costs employers far more to recruit and train a new employee, than to provide DV leave to enable the employee to address their situation,” she said.

“Domestic violence leave provides practical workplace support that provides valuable time and space for abused employees, and their families, and will save the Australian economy billions.

“For those suffering domestic violence the workplace is often their only safe haven and only opportunity to provide financial independence to leave,” she said.

“It is hard to pick up and leave with your children and even harder if you can get no leave and are under threat of losing your job.”

Domestic violence affects one in three workers in Australia and has accounted for 44 per cent of homicides in Queensland

Ms McLennan said the federal Coalition government has shown a complete lack of commitment and capacity in addressing domestic violence, consistently shying away from meaningful reforms.

“Turnbull’s government has shamefully watched on as the gap between male and female average incomes has increased to more than 18 per cent.”

* Premier’s Special Taskforce on Domestic and Family Violence in Queensland, “Not Now, Not Ever” Report, https://www.qld.gov.au/community/documents/getting-support-health-social-issue/dfv-report-vol-one.pdf February, 2015.

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