UN Women Australia urges all Australian businesses to include domestic violence provisions in employee contracts

UN Women Australia is calling on all employers to include family and domestic violence provisions in their employee contracts.

The call comes ahead of the 2012 Gender Equity in the Workplace Summit being co-hosted by UN Women Australia and the Australian Human Resources Institute in Sydney today.

UN Women Australia is reviewing all its staff contracts to ensure adequate family and domestic violence and paid parental leave provisions are included and is urging all employers to do the same.

Under the new provisions in the UN Women Australia contracts staff will have access to dedicated additional paid leave of up to 5 days if they are experiencing family or domestic violence. Staff will also be able to access flexible work arrangements where appropriate and provided with referral to appropriate domestic violence support services.

Primary carers that have completed a year of service are also entitled to 18 weeks paid parental leave at full pay, topped up from the government contribution.

The changes follow findings from the 2011 Safe at Home, Safe at Work? National Domestic Violence and the Workplace Survey which found that all respondents thought domestic violence can impact on the work lives of employees and 78 per cent believed that workplace entitlements could reduce the impact of domestic violence in the workplace.

“The reality is domestic violence is not just an issue that affects people in the home but impacts every facet of their lives, including their performance at work,” UN Women Australia Executive Director, Julie McKay said.

“Employers have an opportunity and a responsibility to understand and support employees experiencing violence. A zero tolerance towards violence against women culture starts at work.

“Access Economics has estimated the total cost of lost productivity associated with domestic violence in the workplace was $483.9 million in 2002-03 and this is only set to rise over the coming years.

“It is up to all employers, regardless of the industry in which they operate to ensure all employees who may be experiencing violence in the home are given adequate support at work.

“Providing these support mechanisms is not only good for employees, but ultimately is also good for business as it will reduce the impact of domestic violence on work performance including employee absenteeism, lateness and being distracted or unwell.”

The Gender Equity in the Workplace Summit, now in its second year, will bring together a select group of thought leaders across various industries including the financial, mining, legal, construction, engineering, manufacturing, tertiary education, information technology and communications sectors.

The Summit entitled Re-imagining our Workplaces will provide the opportunity to share and discuss best practice and develop recommendations for the broader business community on the following themes: Flexibility, Leadership, Supply Chain, Resilience and Mentoring.

The Gender Equity in the Workplace Summit is proudly sponsored by our Principal Partner, Westpac Group. The Twilight Networking Event following the Summit is supported by the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency.