In recent years Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) branches across the country have led the way in attaining paid family and domestic violence leave for their workforces and now new legislation introduced by the Greens is seeking to make it the norm for employees nationally.
Instrumental wins achieved by the ANMF’s state and territory branches date back to 2011, when the NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NSWNMA) broke new ground to insert a clause into the Public Health System Nurses’ and Midwives’ (State) Award 2010 allowing nurses and midwives to use family and carer’s leave and sick leave entitlements for matters relating to family violence.
It included access to an additional five paid days per year if carer’s leave and sick leave entitlements were exhausted and a range of workplace support measures such as flexible work hours and changing telephone and email where appropriate.
More recently, the ANMF (Victoria Branch) secured its public sector nurses and midwives access to 20 days per year of paid special leave in the event of family violence for purposes such as counselling, medical appointments and legal proceedings under the Nurses and Midwives (Victorian Public Health Sector) (Single Interest Employers) Enterprise Agreement 2016-2020.
Similarly, a successful campaign by the Queensland Nurses and Midwives Union (QNMU) helped achieved a minimum 10 days of paid domestic and family violence leave as a core condition across the public sector. While in South Australia, the ANMF (SA Branch) locked in 15 days of paid domestic violence leave for its public sector nurses and midwives and the potential for a further 15 days under special leave with pay provisions.
In a sign of national support for change, Greens MP Adam Bandt introduced a private members’ Bill into the House of Representatives that would give all workers 10 days paid domestic violence leave each year as part of amendments to the National Employment Standards.
The Greens’ Bill underlines widespread calls to tackle the issue, including a pledge by Opposition Leader Bill Shorten that a future Labor government would implement 10 days of paid domestic violence leave for workers.
The push builds on momentum triggered by an Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) campaign that resulted in the Fair Work Commission (FWC) last year ruling that unpaid domestic violence leave should be standard for all workers under modern awards.
Mr Bandt said family and domestic violence was an ongoing problem Australia needed to address immediately.
Current access to paid domestic violence leave shaped by ANMF state and territory branches
Employees experiencing family violence have access to 20 days per year of paid special leave (pro rata for part-time employees) following family violence and for related purposes including counselling, medical appointments, legal proceedings or appointments with a legal practitioner and other related activities. Nurses and Midwives (Victorian Public Health Sector) (Single Interest Employers) Enterprise Agreement 2016-2020)
Queensland introduced 10 days of paid family and domestic violence leave for public sector workers in 2016 after the government passed the new Queensland Industrial Relations Act.
Employees suffering from or escaping domestic and family violence have access to up to 15 days paid leave and potential for a further 15 days under special leave with pay provisions. Nursing/Midwifery (South Australian Public Sector) Enterprise Agreement 2016)
Up to 10 days family violence leave per year in order to attend medical and legal appointments, organise safe housing or childcare and to maintain support networks with children, family and significant others. In addition to family violence leave, employers should consider additionally supporting the employee through measures including increased workplace security, flexible work arrangements and counselling. Nurses and Midwives (Tasmanian State Service) Award.
Employees experiencing domestic violence have access to a maximum of 20 days paid leave per year to allow them to be absent from the workplace to attend counselling appointments, legal proceedings and other related activities. ACT Public Service Nursing and Midwifery Agreement 2013-2017)
Victims of family and domestic violence have access to 10 days paid leave, reinforced flexible work arrangements and safety plan agreements and ongoing access to confidential counselling services provided by employers.
NEW SOUTH WALES
Entitlements provided for sick leave and family and community services leave can be used by staff members experiencing family violence. If these leave entitlements have been exhausted, the employer shall grant up to five days special leave at full pay to cater for absences from the workplace to attend matters arising from family violence situations. Public Health System Nurses’ & Midwives” (State) Award 2017
Northern Territory Public Sector (NTPS) nurses and midwives have access to domestic and family violence leave through the government’s By-law 18 – Miscellaneous Leave. Under the clause, supportive measures include leave with pay, flexible work options and access to an Employee Assistance Program (EAP). The ANMF (NT Branch) is about to start negotiations on a new Enterprise Agreement (EA) and is requesting 20 days per year of paid family and domestic violence leave.