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Austin Chronicle reports that, following the second stakeholder meeting on Nov.
16, Austin Chamber of Commerce Senior Director of Government Relations Tina Cannon was disappointed with how the sessions have run, calling them “less than productive. I think the number one question that has to be asked is ‘Should this policy exist? For every study that backs the policy, other studies prove it doesn’t work.
California, Washington, Minnesota, and most recently Maryland allow employees to use the accrued sick leave to which they are entitled to address issues of domestic violence, as do New York City and the Canadian provinces of Manitoba and Ontario.
Paid domestic violence leave has obvious financial benefits to victims and, advocates argue, less obvious benefits to their employers in terms of retention, productivity, and avoiding disruptions in the workplace.
Considering that most victims of domestic violence are women, providing this kind of support can be part of a diversity and inclusion strategy to attract and retain female employees—although regardless of its benefits to an organization’s reputation, it is simply the right thing to do.
As the s reporting suggested, many Australian employers have implemented such policies voluntarily or through collective bargaining arrangements.
Labor acknowledged the many employers that already provide family violence leave, including Medicare, CUB, Telstra, NAB, Virgin Australia, IKEA and Qantas.
Paid domestic violence leave or “safe leave” is rarely mandated at the national level.
As we told the Austin Business Journal, “the Louisiana legislature recognized that employee benefits like paid sick leave ‘comprise the most significant expense of operating a business’ and that requiring it from businesses at the municipal level can put those businesses at a severe competitive disadvantage.But employees distracted with a volatile situation at home are less productive, while employers are forced to absorb the costs of turnover when victims leave or whose positions are terminated.The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that intimate partner violence causes US victims to lose 8 million days of paid work per year.Since December, Australia’s opposition Labor party has been pushing legislation that would require employers in the country to provide ten days of paid leave for employees to address domestic violence when either they or an immediate family member are a victim of it.The proposed legislation, which originated with the Green party and the Australian Council for Trade Unions, would allow employees to take this time to obtain legal, medical, and counseling services, attend court appointments, or make arrangements to exit abusive relationships and living situations, the Guardian reported at the time: Employer organisations opposed the new entitlement.In fact, they have been pioneers in this regard, Paul Harpur, a law professor at the University of Queensland, noted at The paid domestic violence leave included in Victoria’s Surf Coast Shire Council in Torquay was one of the first agreements to include such leave in the world.This agreement provided survivors of domestic violence an extra 20 days a year of paid leave.“It’s meaningful relief,” says Rachel Braunstein, a lawyer with Her Justice, a women’s rights group that helped craft the New York law.Domestic violence is still largely, and falsely, considered a private matter, something that happens in the realm of the home, and is therefore not a work or company problem.In short, mandates like this one are bad for small- and mid-sized businesses in Austin.It will become yet another reason to not start, keep or move a business here.” 3. Austin City Council (led on this issue by Council Member Greg Casar) asserts that it has been providing public forums to collect opinions about a paid sick leave mandate, but those attending the sessions have found little interest in hearing opposing opinions about a mandate at all.