December 05, 2017

A Shorten Labor Government will legislate for ten days paid domestic and family violence leave in the National Employment Standards (NES).

This is part of Labor’s commitment to make domestic and family violence leave a universal workplace right, to further support those in our community suffering from this scourge.

In 2017 alone, 45 women have been killed through domestic violence. It is the leading cause of death, disability and illness among women aged 15 to 44 years of age.

The ABS estimates that around two out of every three women who experience domestic violence are in the workforce.

This announcement builds on Labor’s 2015 commitment of five days paid domestic and family violence leave because we recognise the need to improve workplace support for survivors of family violence.

We’ve listened to victims, frontline workers, business, and organisations that deal daily with domestic violence. Their clear message is that people who have experienced domestic violence need more support in the workplace.  

The combined stress of seeking legal advice, accessing counselling services and medical treatment should not be compounded by fear of losing your job or the financial disadvantage of going without pay.  

For businesses, including this leave as a workplace right will prevent loss of productivity, increase employee retention and reduce unpredictable absenteeism.

Labor acknowledges the many employers who have already recognised this and provide family violence leave, including Medicare, CUB, Telstra, NAB, Virgin Australia, IKEA and Qantas.

These employers have paved the way and helped reduce the stigma that often accompanies domestic violence.

Labor also acknowledges the contribution Australia’s unions have made in advocating for paid domestic and family violence leave.

While Labor is leading the way, Turnbull and his Minister for Employment, who is also the Minister for Women, have vacated the field. They do not support introducing paid domestic violence leave into the NES. They see domestic violence leave as a cost to business and in a terrifying display of how out of touch they are, argue that it will make women less attractive to employers.

In fact in 2016, the Federal Government applied the bargaining policy to prevent public service enterprise agreements in approximately 30 departments (including the Prime Minister’s) to specify the provision of paid family violence leave. 

Consistent with Labor’s longstanding, cooperative approach to workplace relations, we will work with business, unions and other stakeholders to discuss the specific implementation arrangements for Labor’s plan. 

Labor understands that the complexity of family violence requires a strategic approach by all levels of government, business, and the community.

Labor calls on Turnbull and his Liberals to support Labor’s commitment to domestic and family violence leave, which will be a pivotal part of people being able to remain in work and get the help they need.

If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault or family violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit In an emergency, call 000.