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Paid family violence leave heads to court

AAP logoAAP 13/11/2016 Helen Velissaris

Millions of employees experiencing domestic or family violence in Australia could be eligible for 10 days paid leave if a case succeeds at the Fair Work Commission.

The ACTU launched the case in Melbourne on Monday, calling for all workers covered by award rates to be given 10 days paid family and domestic violence leave.

It would mean a national approach to cover more than two million workers, the ACTU says.

Already Victoria, South Austraila and Queensland offer family and domestic violence leave.

ACTU President Ged Kearney says paid domestic violence leave could save lives and make it easier for victims to stay in work.

Being able to attend court hearings, support centres or even given time to move from an abusive household would be extremely helpful to women and victims.

An employer would have to keep an employee's domestic violence experiences confidential.

The employee might have to provide evidence of the need to use the leave, which could include producing a police document, doctor's certificate or family violence support service note.

The Australian Industry Group is appearing at the hearing on behalf of employers and says paid family violence leave should be dealt with at "the enterprise level - not in the award safety net".

The ACTU wants casual workers to be given 10 days paid leave, something AI Group says would be "unfair and unworkable".

Especially for retail and hospitality industries that have a high portion of casual workers.

Ms Kearney says employers have exaggerated the cost of leave.

"The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry have costed it at 30 per cent of the work force taking all of the leave every year at full time when we know that the stats actually show people experience domestic violence once in their life," Ms Kearney said.

About 100 women and union members rallied outside the Fair Work Commission on Monday before the hearing began.

The rally was read a statement sent by anti-domestic violence campaigner Rosie Battie, who said employers face the reality of the "epidemic" of family and domestic violence.

"Family violence is a workplace issue," says her statement that was read out to the rally.

About two-thirds of women reporting recent domestic violence are in paid employment, the union says.

The ACTU is also calling for an additional two days unpaid leave per occasion, taking the total number of family violence leave days available to workers up to 12.

National domestic violence helpline: 1800 737 732 or 1800RESPECT. In an emergency call triple-zero.

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