SAFE SPACES: A study on paid family/ domestic violence leave

SAFE SPACES: A study on paid family/ domestic violence leave

Family/domestic violence can affect women whether they’re working or not, and regardless of their education level, socio-economic or cultural background.

As well as the physical and psychological damage it causes, the financial impacts of family/domestic violence on the lives of women and children can be devastating, and continue long after they have escaped the violence.

It’s estimated that 800,000 survivors of family/domestic violence are currently in paid employment.

Employers have a powerful opportunity to help reduce the risks for some women and provide an environment others may need to help them rebuild their lives. Not having a supportive workplace that allows time off work to attend court or appointments, make housing arrangements, recover from injury or stay safe can add to the emotional and financial stress of experiencing violence.

An increasing number of large employers are starting to acknowledge their role in mitigating family/domestic violence, with organisations as large as Telstra, major banks and the public sector in a number of states now offering paid family/domestic violence leave to employees.

Women’s Agenda and Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand partnered together to explore how widespread such paid leave options currently are.

We also looked at how comfortable people feel about asking employers for support to deal with family/domestic violence, and what type of information they think their workplace needs to better deal with the issue.

The survey also explored the business and financial impacts of taking time off to deal with violence-related matters for female entrepreneurs and small business owners.

More than 550 women completed our online survey. Of these, 213 respondents chose to leave additional comments regarding the role of workplaces in supporting employees who experience family/domestic violence. We were pleased to find that nearly half of those polled who are employed have access to at least one day of paid family/domestic violence leave. However, we were concerned by the large proportion of employed women who still do not have access to this leave.

The vast majority of women feel paid family/domestic violence leave is important. Three quarters of female business owners and entrepreneurs reported that they work from home more than 50% of the time. This may increase their risk of family/domestic violence, as it’s likely that many women in this position do not have access to a separate “space” or environment that can provide some safety.

Many business owners commented that taking time off from their business due to family/domestic violence would be detrimental to their income and in some cases cause devastating setbacks.

While this sample is by no means representative, we hope the results of this poll will lead to more conversations regarding paid family/domestic violence leave and a discussion that gives more consideration to self-employed women, as well as women who are in casual work.

Download the full report here

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