01 June 2015

Supporting employees going through domestic violence

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With a reported 39 women murdered by the male partners in Australian so far in 2015, domestic violence appears to be far more entrenched than previously reported in the media.

In a submission to the Victorian Family Violence Royal Commission, the Australian Council of Trade stated that “every worker should have access to paid leave for domestic violence.”

With domestic violence costing the economy an estimated $16.8 billion per annum, the need for Human Resources Managers to be aware of the impacts of domestic violence on the workplace is important.

Ged Kearney, President of the ACTU said recently “… a significant number of the approximately 350,000 victims who experience domestic violence annually were employed in unionised workplaces. By providing domestic violence leave, employers are helping send the message that family violence must not be tolerated or swept under the carpet."

The ACTU recommendation to the Fair Work Commission has the backing of 2015 Australian of the Year Rose Batty who said in a recent interview she was hearing stories of women who were having to quit their jobs due to the amount of time they were out of the office and in the court.

"The ability to maintain your employment, keep your job, it helps secure somewhere to live, it helps you to have that ongoing working contact with your colleagues and it’s a really important part of your journey." Batty said in a recent interview with the ABC.

Elizabeth Broderick, Sex Discrimination Commission said in a recent statement at the launch of the Telstra “Safe Connections Program” that domestic violence was “… Australia’s most significant gender equality issue. It is both a cause and a consequence of gender inequality. Yet both the violence, and the women who experience it, are often invisible. This is particularly the case for women who experience domestic and family violence.

What can Human Resources Managers do to reduce added pressure on suffers of domestic violence?

Ensuring staff have access to leave is just the start for Corporate Australia in addressing the long-term, ongoing problems that come with a staff member suffering from domestic violence.
Addressing the impacts of domestic violence on the workplace can never be a one-size-fits-all solution.

Steps Human Resource Managers can take

  • Take the time to talk to the staff member in question
  • Ensure flexible work placement, change shift times and work with the staff members availability
  • Work with the employee in question, they’re going through an unbelievably bad experience, unrealistic demands of the workplace will only make their lives more miserable.
  • Investigate whether or not a tailored workplace safety plan 

While there will obviously be administrative and financial costs to business to implement the recommendations made by the ACTU in their claim to the Fair Work Commission, corporate Australia needs to weigh the cost of supporting employees in trouble, with the cost and toll of domestic violence on Australia.

Mike Cullen has recently returned to Akolade after a period as the conference producer for one of Australia's leading economic think tanks. Mike began working in the conference industry in 2007 after looking for a career change from the high pressured world of inbound customer service. Mike has worked for some of the most well known conference and media companies in the B2B space and in his spare time is working on his first novel in a planned Epic Fantasy trilogy.

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