Domestic violence leave is increasingly being recognised as a necessity and offered by more and more employers. Lately there’s been a lot of rhetoric about whether it should be included in all modern awards.
Below are 3 common excuses for not implementing domestic violence leave and why they’re crap (in my humble opinion). Pull out these rebuttals at work or at the pub; wherever you need to do a bit of disrupting ;)
Excuse #1: It’ll be misused by employees chucking a “Divvie”
Why it’s a crap excuse:
Obviously there’ll be people who abuse it. There always is. That’s why this excuse is so crap. Can you imagine if we didn’t have personal leave entitlements because of the concern that some people might misuse the process? Because of the risk that some people might misuse the process, all those who genuinely need sick leave are denied their entitlements. Ridiculous, right?
Some people will definitely abuse it; most will never use it, including many who need it (because of shame, stigma, stereotypes, you name it, associated with domestic violence victims); but for those who need it and choose to use it, it can make a real difference in their lives.
Excuse #2: It’s too expensive
Why this excuse is bullshit:
Let me ask you this: what is more expensive; 7 days of domestic violence leave, or staff turn-over?
Let’s think this though; new staff bring diversity, fresh perspectives and new ideas, but there is lag-time and there are costs.
Not only do employers need to invest in tangible recruitment costs (like the actual recruitment process, expenses of hiring a temp while the position is vacant, etc), but there’s also less tangible (but just as significant) expenses. This includes things like that transition phase of lost corporate knowledge or expertise (from having someone leave) to having to fill a new vessel with the skills, knowledge and training to fill the gap. It takes time, it takes patience, it can also initially take more supervision and training time.
Realistically, staff turn-over causes a bit of a burden and strain on the organisation. So why would an employer want to go down this path when they already have a perfectly good employee who wants to keep their job, but just needs a little support? Many do not and are leading the way by providing DV leave for their staff.
Additionally, it can be hard to attract committed and skilled staff in the first instance, depending on the industry. Gen Ys are increasing in the workforce as young professionals and they want to work for employers who give a crap. So not only can domestic violence leave help employers retain staff, but it can help them to attract staff in the first place.
Excuse #3: It’ll be a disincentive to hiring women (because they might actually use their entitlements)
Why this is a shit-house excuse:
Ok, so by this line of logic, employers shouldn’t be hiring women anyways, since they’ll have to potentially pay them maternity leave.
And by the way, what IS the incentive for hiring women anyway? Is it because it seems to be socially acceptable to pay them less?
What we’re really saying with this excuse is that having an obligation to provide staff (particularly women) with rights to safety and security, isn’t of interest to employers and we can’t be bothered to hold them accountable for it.
But the truth is, Australia’s already growing a track-record of employers who think otherwise and are providing their staff with domestic violence leave provisions.
In relation to those who would STILL stand behind this excuse, my response is that this is why we need to have domestic violence as a protected attribute in anti-discrimination law, so that there are protections from employers who choose to discriminate on such a basis.
Having domestic violence leave available for staff normalises help-seeking behaviour of victims. It tells them that they are entitled to seek help and it normalises the social responsibility of employers and colleagues to respond to victims in a positive way when they choose to seek help.
Domestic violence leave and positive social responses from employers and colleagues can be the support system that a woman might need to leave an abuser.
It can make all the difference in someone’s life, it’s economical, it’s attractive to prospective employees, retentive of current employees and it’s the right thing to do.
Tell me your thoughts in the comments below! Does your workplace provide #dvleave?
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Hey you! I’m Heidi. I’ve been working in the anti-violence against women sector as an educator, advocate and activist for the past 10 years. I work with survivors and advocates to ensure that their voices are heard in the development of policies, laws and programs, to overcome structural oppression and injustice. I’m a coffee addict and a social justice nerd and I’m here to help you become a sexual violence saboteur and a domestic violence disrupter.