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.
While 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.
Five days Paid Domestic Violence leave was first introduced by the Former NSW Labor Government in February 2011, in response to the NSW Government’s June 2010 NSW Domestic and Family Violence Action Plan: Stop the Violence, End the Silence. Labor has committed to supporting ten days paid domestic violence leave.
Comments 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?”