Now This is a Tough Conversation….

Posted on Mar 3, 2017 in HR,Latest Articles . 0 Comments.

Family Violence is a deeply troubling and complex social issue in Australia that also affects every Australian workplace. In your workplace it is more than likely that you have victims, perpetrator, friends and family of victims, neighbours or simply deeply concerned citizens. We know the statistics in our community are staggeringly high 1 in 4 Australian women experienced at least one incident of violence from an intimate since the age of 15.

From a workplace perspective we are only just starting to work through the role and responsibilities of the workplace in this complicated context.

There is currently a request before Fair Work to have Awards insert a clause entitling employees to 10 days per year of paid leave to attend activities related to family violence. This is to include such things as attending legal proceedings, counselling and medical appointments. Many organisations now allow for Family Violence Leave in a formal policy that includes these types of arrangements.

This is considered necessary because, as Rosie Batty states: “I can’t tell you how many days I spent in court … I was making statements to police, taking time out of my day and following up on things connected to charges… Paid domestic violence leave, I believe, can ultimately mean the difference between someone possibly losing their job and falling into poverty, and not being able to find rental accommodation. I see this as a really critical step.” However, yesterday, one of the three Fair Work Commissioners hearing the request for paid domestic violence leave to be in all modern Awards refused the request. The other 2 have not given a judgment yet. Why did he refuse? Well Commissioner Watson considered that “mandating such leave requirements would do more to undermine trust [between employer and employee] than promote it. If employees seek to take paid leave for purposes which are regarded as having a tenuous link with actual physical violence, the entitlement may lead to a deterioration in workplace relationships. Such implications will not provide greater fairness to employees or employers.” We will have to wait to see what the 2 other Commissioners say on the matter.

 We are not going to resolve this public policy debate here, however what is clear from both perspectives is that open, honest and trusted communication is the centrepiece of employee and employer engagement. For this to occur in the Family Violence space will require significant skills and a particular mindset from your managers.

  • How many of your employees trust their supervisor enough to have this conversation?
  • How many of your mangers are skilled enough to enter into this conversation?
  • Do you think that your managers have the mindset to understand this from their Teammate’s perspective?
  • Does your business support flexible and open conversations with employees? Or is that a risk you are not prepared to take?
  • Like any other serious issue that can affect an employee, do your supervisors and managers know where to direct employees for support or how to escalate an issue?
  • How does your HR Team support these conversations?

These are the skills and the mindset that The ZALT Group can help you and your business to have the difficult conversations. The tough ones that actually make a difference to how effectively you operate. Please give Zandy or me a call to discuss this further.

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