Watson issues DV judgement but no decision yet

01 March, 2017

The ACTU’s claim for 10 days paid family and domestic violence leave has been knocked back by Fair Work Commission Vice President Graeme Watson, with the other members of the full bench yet to announce their views.

As part of the 2014 modern award review the Australian Council of Trade Unions made an application to include a clause in all modern awards that give employees 10 paid days leave per year to attend appointments related to dealing with family and domestic violence.

With Watson’s resignation taking effect on Tuesday, the Fair Work Commission has taken the unusual step of releasing the reasons for his decision, while Deputy President Anne Gooley and Commissioner Paula Spencer are yet to hand down their judgements.

In his reasoning, Watson rejected the ACTU’s claims on the basis that:

  • Domestic violence is a serious and pervasive social problem that requires a whole of community response.
  • Any responsible employer should be aware of the potential for its employees to experience domestic violence and be open to assisting them deal with the problems. He believes that such an approach is to be preferred over leave that can be taken without prior approval for an uncertain range of circumstances which may undermine trust within the workplace.
  • The FWC has been generally reluctant to supplement the National Employment Standards through the modern award.
  • Australia already has a relatively high safety net of terms and conditions and there is no precedent amongst other western economies for the claim sought.

Watson said the Federal Government should consider whether domestic and family violence leave be included in the NES as part of any broader review of the problem.

There is no indication when Gooley and Spencer will hand down their decisions, which will decide whether the ACTU’s claim is successful. 

Read the full decision here.

► Graeme Watson will be a key presenter at this year’s IR conference. Early bird tickets are available for a limited time here.