6 September 2017
The Berejiklian Government has refused to commit to expanding existing paid domestic violence entitlements to 10 days for all NSW Public Servants, and admitted that not all public servants are eligible for the leave.
Today in Budget Estimates, the Treasurer and IR Minister, Dominic Perrotett also refused to commit to improving DV leave for NSW public sector workers from 5 to 10 days’ paid leave, or to extending it to the private sector – despite the Fair Work Act specifically placing this responsibility on the States.
While earlier, Minister Goward said the Government “absolutely” accepted that there is a role for employers to provide women escaping domestic violence with access to DV leave for counselling and court appearances, she refused to give a clear commitment to advocate for an extension of the existing NSW entitlements, saying “this is not just an issue for me, but it applies to the entirety of the public sector”. The Minister said that “Cabinet would have to deal with it.”
Ms Goward said that a majority of NSW Public Servants have access to DV leave, however a Treasury Circular from 16 July 2014 directed all NSW Government agencies to implement Five Days Paid Domestic Violence Leave, and ‘strongly encouraged’ other Public Sector Agencies and State Owned Corporations to ‘adopt these provisions in their industrial instruments.’
The Minister noted that the issue had received strong support at COAG meetings in October and December last year, but refused to comment on NSW’s position at these meetings. The Minister referred to the Fair Work Commission’s recent preliminary decision to dismiss an application by the ACTU to include paid domestic violence leave in all modern awards, saying she would not move forward on the issue until the case was concluded. Most NSW Public Servants are not subject to the Fair Work Act.
NSW Labor has previously committed to supporting an increase in DV leave for public sector workers from 5 to 10 days paid leave. We would also support workers in the private sector being given these same rights.
Quotes attributable to Shadow Minister for Industrial Relations Adam Searle:
“If the Ministers in this Government care about providing support for victims of domestic violence they must act now. Everyone who works for the NSW Government who needs it should have access to ten days paid leave to deal with domestic violence, not just the 5 now available.
“The Minister also refused to even look at supporting DV leave for those in the private sector.
“This is not nearly good enough in the 21st century.”
Quotes attributable to Shadow Minister for Prevention of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Jenny Aitchison:
“The Minister has failed to advocate within her own Government to expand paid domestic violence leave to ten days for those escaping domestic violence.
“The Minister says domestic violence leave helps women to escape from domestic violence, and that employers “absolutely” have a role to play in providing domestic violence leave, but has refused to advocate for expanding domestic violence leave for the Government’s own workforce.
“The NSW Government has an opportunity to show leadership as an employer in this space, yet they refuse to commit to expanding domestic violence leave entitlements. How do they expect other employers to take it up when they won’t?”