Thursday, 29 September 2016

Domestic Violence and Work

According to the Australian Human Rights Comission:

  • In Australia, approximately one woman is killed by her current or former partner every week, often after a history of domestic and family violence.
  • 34% of women have experienced physical violence since the age of 15.
  • 17% of women have experienced violence from a current or former partner since the age of 15 (compared to 5.3% of men).
  • 30% of respondents to a 2011 survey on domestic and family violence and the workplace reported they had experienced violence, and 5% of those respondents had experienced violence in the last 12 months.

If you are experiencing domestic violence, or know someone at work that is, should you tell your Manager? 

This is an entirely personal decision. There may be some support mechanisms available to you in the workplace, and this may assist you with that decision.

Flexible Working Arrangements
There is a provision in the Fair Work Act for someone who is experiencing, or providing care or support to someone who is experiencing, domestic violence to request flexible working arrangements. My previous post regarding requesting flexible working arrangements may assist.

Domestic Violence Leave
Some pubic service departments introduced a special type of leave relating to domestic violence, and some larger Organisations followed suit, so it is always helpful to check your Company policies and procedures, and your Award or Enterprise Agreement to see if there is a provision for this.

Employee Assistance Programs
Most medium-large organisations provide EAP and this is a great option for free counselling sessions and other resources

Security concerns / Domestic Violence Intervention Orders
If you have a concern about your safety at work, or a restraining order that includes your workplace, then I would encourage you to speak to your Manager or HR Manager to try and determine what extra security measures could be enacted in your workplace. (small things like locking doors that are usually left open during the day, or alerting security guards to be extra vigilant could be suggested)

When you work with your partner
Recently there was an Unfair Dismissal case (Leyla Moghimi v Eliana Construction and Developing Group Pty Ltd [2015] FWC 4864) where the victim of domestic violence was dismissed, but her ex-partner retained. She won that unfair dismissal case and was awarded compensation. The clear message from this case was that the onus was on the employer to work with her regarding the Intervention Order. Therefore I would recommend seeking external advice if you, or someone you know, is in a similar situation.

The future of domestic violence in the workplace
Despite the frightening statistics, Australia doesn't have much legislated within employment law to assist those in domestic violence situations. There are a few organisations such as the Australian Human Rights Comission that are actively advocating for more to be done, but in the meantime, at least as a minimum, there is some assistance available in terms of flexible working arrangement requests and unfair dismissal protection.


More workplace tips

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