Paid leave win for domestic violence victims

Teachers affected by domestic violence can now access special paid leave to help them rebuild their lives.

The Minister for Industrial Relations has approved amendments to the Special Leave Directive which make paid leave available to teachers dealing with the impact of family or domestic violence.

Specifically, leave should be granted to provide affected employees with time off to:

  • seek safe housing
  • attend medical/counselling appointments
  • attend court hearings
  • access legal advice
  • organise alternate care or education arrangements for their children
  • rebuild support networks with children, family and others.

Paid leave for victims of domestic violence had originally been included in the Women’s Log of Claims for EB7, but it was felt that it was better pursued as the subject of a whole of government claim.  The Queensland Council of Union’s Women and Equal Opportunity Committee has been highly committed to this campaign and this very pleasing outcome is a tribute to its efforts.

The amendment has been inserted under Clause 11 - Other Exceptional Circumstances, which states: “This leave type may be used for many and varied circumstances and should be granted to assist employees particularly on compassionate grounds. Applications of this nature must be handled confidentially and with sensitivity.”

In addition to those dealing with the aftermath of domestic violence, the amendment has also made paid leave available in a number of other circumstances, including to employees who are:

  • undergoing an intensive course of medical treatment from specialist practitioners
  • dealing with the terminal illness of a partner, child or other close family member (recognising kinship for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples)
  • mourning the death of a partner, child or other close family member
  • dealing with the destruction of their home and property by a natural disaster such as a flood or cyclone
  • a victim of a violent crime.

The above are examples only.  There are many other possible scenarios where it would be appropriate to approve special leave for other exceptional circumstances. It is not mandatory for the employee to have exhausted other forms of paid leave prior to accessing this leave.

The amended directive was due to come into operation from 27 February.
If you require further information on this leave, call QTAD on 1300 11 7823 or email qtad@qtu.asn.au

If you require assistance or support for yourself or someone you know who is a victim of domestic violence, the Domestic Violence Resource Centre (phone 07 3217 2544 or visit the website at www.dvrc.org.au) may be able to help.  Twenty-four hour support and assistance is also available through Lifeline on 131114.

Penny Spalding
Acting Women’s Coordinator

Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 117 No 2, 16 March 2012, p21