With the government announcing that employees can access 10 days of paid family and domestic violence leave, those affected can receive an added level of financial protection. However, there is still more that businesses can do to protect workers.
Tammy Hewitt, a mental health advocate and keynote speaker, joined The HR Leader to discuss why the legislation is such a significant step for domestic and family violence protection and what further action organisations can take.
“For somebody who has been through domestic violence … it is so important because so many people are so afraid to speak up,” said Ms Hewitt.
“The financial side of things is really challenging. And to be honest, it was one of the key factors for me in not speaking up about what I was going through at the time. Because it’s our livelihood.”
“So it is so important because it gives people that extra security and reassurance that if they are going through something like that, that there is support out for them financially, that they’re not just going to be left to try and take days off without being paid.”
Ms Hewitt said that while the government action is a great step, businesses themselves should look to implement their own policies.
“The legislation is fantastic. It’s great that it’s come out, but I guess the bittersweet sort of part for me is that there needs to be a lot more from the employers. It’s not good enough to say, ‘we follow legislation, we’ve got the minimum requirements’, that’s not enough anymore.”
“Legislation clearly is the absolute minimum. But employers need to be more proactive with this. When you look at difficult topics such as domestic violence or mental health, we need to really make sure that we are providing an environment that is physically and psychologically safe, where employees feel that they can open up and share,” explained Ms Hewitt.
She noted that providing employees with a safe environment where they feel comfortable opening up is key for support.
Confidentiality should also be exercised, said Ms Hewitt: “My situation, could be a lot different to others, but when I was going through it, I would not like everyone to know every little bit of detail. Once I tell this person, where’s that information going to go? If I apply for leave, who’s going to see that? What is my payslip going to look like?”
“Because you want to know, like, when you are literally fearing your life or fearing being hurt, you think about everything … The policy and then the procedures need to include that level of detail … If it’s not handled properly, or if confidentiality isn’t maintained, that’s going to really affect people.”
If you or someone you know is affected by family or domestic violence, you can reach out to the resources below:
White Ribbon Australia: https://www.whiteribbon.org.au/
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