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Employment and Workplace Relations Minister Tony Burke revealed that more than 11 million Australian workers, including casual and part-time workers, will soon be entitled to 10 days of paid family and domestic violence (FDV) leave.

The decision comes as a result of the Federal Government’s commitment to add paid domestic violence leave to the National Employment Standards (NES), giving full access to 8.5 million workers. This follows on a preliminary decision by the Fair Work Commission, which provided 2.7 million workers covered by modern awards with access to paid FDV leave.

“Casual workers are not spared from family and domestic violence. In fact, women who are experiencing family and domestic violence are more likely to be employed in casual work,” Burke said.

“We cannot leave them behind. That’s why this has to be a universal entitlement.”

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare considers FDV and sexual violence a major issue that has been observed across all demographics and socioeconomic groups, but predominantly affects women and children.

A case of FDV is reported in Australia every two minutes, and one woman dies every ten days at the hand of a former or current partner. This landmark legislation aims at reducing these numbers.

“We don’t want to see the next generation of men and women grappling with this scourge of family and domestic violence,” concluded Social Services Minister Amanda Rishworth.

The Fair Work Amendment (Paid Family and Domestic Violence Leave) Bill 2022 was introduced in Parliament on Thursday 28 July 2022, and the plan is to commence the scheme on 1 February 2023, with small businesses getting an extra six months to adjust to the change. The program will be fully operational by August 2023.

“The union movement has fought hard for this through the Fair Work Commission. And some businesses have already done the right thing and established this entitlement,” Burke said.

“But we don’t want a system where some workers get paid leave, and others don’t – it has to apply to everyone.”

The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) had earlier celebrated the Fair Work Commission’s initial decision, while highlighting the urgent need to include the leave entitlement in the NES.

“Access to paid family and domestic violence leave saves lives. No worker should ever have to choose between their income and their safety,” said ACTU President Michele O’Neil.

“The difference between this entitlement being in the award system and also in the NES cannot be overstated. Failing to include it in the NES would deny access to millions of working people.”