The Australian Congress of Trade Unions (ACTU)–a union body representing 2.5 million trade union members–has recently come out in support of domestic violence leave for workers struggling with family violence. The current proposal would allow for 10 days of paid leave for permanent workers. The ACTU has taken up the issue of domestic violence for a number of reasons. ACTU president Ged Kearney highlights that a “significant number” of Australian women who experience domestic violence are union members themselves, making paid leave a key issue for working people and thier unions. Domestic violence leave could also help to combat the isolation that many victims experience, with Kearney noting that “…employers are helping send the message that family violence must not be tolerated or swept under the carpet”.
ACTU’s proposal comes months after Telstra, a large private sector employer in Australia, announced they would begin providing their employees 10 days of domestic violence leave per year.
Paid leave for workers experiencing domestic violence is a major step in the right direction with regards to domestic violence policy and workplace practices. This policy ensures that victims can focus on finding solutions that end the violence in their lives without risking their jobs and financial security. This unprecedented move is a positive addition to the web of services and responses to domestic violence that currently exist in Australia and should be placed on the agenda for advocates and professionals working in the field in United States.