'Big Four' bank offers paid domestic violence leave
11 June 2013
In a dramatic move, staff at one of the Big Four banks will now be entitled to unlimited paid domestic violence leave. It is believed to be the first major private sector organisation to implement such a policy.
The bank introduced this new leave allocation to assist any employee experiencing physical, sexual, emotional or financial abuse. It is designed to encourage employees experiencing domestic violence to come forward and seek help from their employer, rather than suffering in silence or feeling isolated from their workplace.
To demonstrate their commitment to the policy, the bank is making the leave available with no qualifying period and no limitation on duration.
In introducing paid domestic violence leave, the bank is hoping to acknowledge the important role employment plays in helping victims of domestic violence maintain a sense of financial and emotional independence. Ongoing employment can provide people experiencing domestic violence with a sense of stability and a focus outside of a difficult domestic situation.
One of the risks for staff experiencing domestic violence is that they end up using their other leave – personal leave or annual leave – to cover absences from work spent dealing with challenges at home. In providing leave specifically for this purpose, the bank hopes employees will be able to retain their other leave allocations for its intended purpose and use the domestic violence leave, if required, for dealing with legal matters or organising counselling.
In responding to an employee's request, the bank will consider a range of support options, for example; job sharing, adjusting work hours or changing rosters, or providing time off.
Speaking to the Age, Ludo McFerran, National Manager of the Safe at Home, Safe at Work project who worked with the bank on the new policy, noted that other employers offering this type of leave have seen it used sparingly.
''If you're going through this crisis in your life, work is where you are going to feel safest, even where you are going to forget about it [the violence],'' she said. ''You are not going to be taking great loads of leave to hang around home.''