Telstra Offers Domestic Violence Leave
19 January 2015 at 11:27 am
One of Australia’s largest telecommunications companies has made a groundbreaking move, offering all 34,000 of its staff members paid domestic violence leave.
Telstra announced recently that it would begin to allow all of its Australian employees up to 10 days of paid leave if they are victims of domestic violence.
The leave will be offered on top of personal leave already available to staff members.
Telstra’s General Manager of Diversity and Industries, Troy Roderick, told Pro Bono Australia News that the new entitlement for staff had been born out of the company’s Family Violence Support Policy, which was launched in November 2014.
“It’s really about ensuring that people who are experiencing family or domestic violence have the support they need when that’s happening in their lives,” Roderick said.
Roderick said that the leave was available to anyone affected by domestic violence, even if they were not the direct victim, and that they could apply for it retrospectively.
“Domestic and family violence can take a variety of different forms, not just physical violence, but there can be emotional, financial or other kinds of violence that people experience,” he said.
“Sometimes you’re not able to get 'evidence' for those kinds of things but you are experiencing them, so our policy doesn’t require people to present evidence or proof as they’re applying for the leave because we trust our people that they’re not going to make up a story just to get a few days off.
“There’s other leave if you need to take time off for other personal things. The idea here is we treat the subject matter with respect and the people that are experiencing family or domestic violence with the utmost respect, privacy and confidentiality, recognising the sensitivity around the issue.
“This is I guess the personal aspect of the policy and of managers who are leading teams, to understand that there is a human side to this and it’s not all about the mechanics of an application process that say you need to let us know before.
“[The leave is for] anything that’s happening that’s impacting you. So if like me you’re someone who grew up in a violent household, I didn’t experience violence myself but it happened in my household, you would be able to access that leave to help my family member deal with what’s going on.
"The research and data shows us that the impact on families, and in particular children, is significant.”
The announcement is in line with a Union-led campaign for all employers to offer similar entitlements and Roderick said he expected other companies to come on board with the idea.
“I’m really proud actually that Telstra’s doing this, and other large corporates,” he said.
“You’ll probably get other things coming from other companies about this too. This is a corporate responsibility piece because we have big voices and we can lend our support to things that are important like this.”
The Communication Workers Union welcomed Telstra’s announcement.
“Telstra’s Family and Domestic Violence Support policy will provide employees with up to 10 days paid leave to attend medical appointments, attend counselling sessions, receive legal advice or undertake other activities related to their experience of family/domestic violence,” the CWU said.
“The leave is not cumulative, year on year, and is not available to casuals on a paid basis, only unpaid. And because it is provided for by policy, rather than being part of an award or enterprise agreement, the entitlement is not enforceable. So the actual amount of leave any employee gets will be at the discretion of management.
“The CWU nevertheless welcomes Telstra’s adoption of this policy which marks an important step towards making domestic violence leave a recognised workplace right like sick leave and parental leave.”