Employers encouraged to introduce domestic violence leave entitlements

Alcoa Australia chairman and managing director Michael Parker.
Alcoa Australia chairman and managing director Michael Parker.

EMPLOYERS have been urged to follow the lead of other firms in WA and introduce special leave entitlements for people experiencing family and domestic violence.

Prevention of Family and Domestic Violence Minister Simone McGurk made the call following the release of a new Australian National Committee for UN Women report.

Taking the first step: workplace responses to domestic and family violence highlighted estimates suggesting domestic and family violence would cost Australian businesses $609 million annually by 2021.

It also noted that two-thirds of women experiencing family and domestic violence are employed, which Ms McGurk said made the workplace a key player when it came to supporting victims.

She urged businesses to follow the path set by companies including Bankwest and Rio Tinto, as well as the State Government, by introducing leave entitlements to support employees in a rough patch.

“We now hope other Western Australian employers also consider the impact of family and domestic violence on their workforce and think about what they can do to support the safety of victims as well as the productivity of their business,” she said.Mining firm Alcoa, which has its corporate office in Booragoon, introduced a domestic and family violence policy in March 2016.

Alcoa Australia chairman and managing director Michael Parker said employees are entitled to a range “of tailored assistance” including special paid leave, flexible work arrangements, safety plans, phone screening, and individualised contingencies.

Mr Parker, the catalyst for the policy’s introduction, said business leaders could not champion gender-balanced leadership without addressing domestic and family violence.

“Leadership is critical in setting the tone for change and starting the hard conversations,” he said.

“If we hope to create inclusive and productive workplaces, then we need to properly address the tough issues like domestic and family violence which is intrinsically linked to gender inequality.”