The Federal Opposition has accused Finance Minister Mathias Cormann of being “callous and insensitive” for suggesting that mandated domestic violence leave would be “another cost on the economy”.
Senator Cormann said it is not something the Government is “attracted to” because it would impact on Australia’s international competitiveness.
“It’s a terrible indictment on the Government that they’re so insensitive to the needs of victims of domestic violence,” Labor’s employment spokesman Brendan O’Connor told AM.
Labor wants the Government to include its policy of five days’ family violence leave in the National Employment Standards, which set out the minimum entitlements for Australian workers covered by the Fair Work Act.
“The National Employment Standards are enshrined in the Fair Work Act, they can always be, and indeed Parliament determines the national minima,” Mr O’Connor said.
“It’s not just the practical support for women to have days when required, it’s also trying to destigmatise this so that victims come forward and realise that there is institutional support, there is support in the community, there is support in the workplaces.”
Last week the Prime Minister said the call for a mandated level of domestic violence leave would be “reconsidered” after the Fair Work Commission rules on the idea next year.
“We certainly encourage and welcome companies that make provision for that in their arrangements with their employees,” Malcolm Turnbull said on Thursday.
“Our position is to let that hearing proceed, and then we’ll examine, reconsider the matter, after the Fair Work Commission has made its decision.”
But Labor said the Government could, and should, act immediately.
“The Prime Minister’s weasel words really do not provide any solace to those who believe there should be greater levels of support in our society for victims of domestic violence, including in our workplaces,” Mr O’Connor said.