Workers may be familiar with sick leave and compassionate leave, but now there is another type of leave gaining traction in Australia: domestic violence leave.
More than half of major private sector employers have introduced domestic violence leave in the past year, and one-third have a formal policy.
But Australia’s Fair Work Act does not presently provide workers with a right to domestic violence leave.
The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) is hoping to change that with its submission to the Fair Work Commission this year calling for 10 days of paid domestic violence leave, and an additional two days of unpaid leave, in all modern awards.
The ACTU also propose that employees providing support to someone experiencing domestic violence are entitled to the same leave. This, they say, will make it easier for survivors of domestic violence to manage tasks like leaving home and seeking legal aid, while remaining in paid employment.
Companies such as Bankwest and Virgin Australia ask for proof of domestic violence, in the form of a document issued by police, a doctor, or a lawyer, for example.
Alternatively, Qantas' policy states employees must prove they used the time off to seek help, in the form of medical appointments or counselling, arranging accommodation, or attending legal proceedings.
But despite these strides, a number of public voices fundamentally disagree with the idea of 'domestic violence leave'. Columnist Miranda Devine published a tweet in November asking, "how does DV leave stop DV, exactly?"
"If anything it encourages it, or at least false reports. "Divvie" the new "sickie". Another union rort."
How does DV leave stop DV, exactly?If anything it encourages it, or at least false reports. "Divvie" the new "sickie". Another union rort https://t.co/y9mrdu26Ks
— Miranda Devine (@mirandadevine) November 16, 2016
What followed was a debate between several women about the value of providing domestic violence leave.
"It enables women dealing with financial abuse to get immediate help without worrying about lost income," wrote one woman in response to Devine's tweet.