Guidelines

Domestic Violence and the Workplace: Support Options Available for Staff Members - Guidelines

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1. Purpose and Objectives

These guidelines outline the types of leave and support options available to a staff member:

  • who is experiencing a situation of domestic violence; or
  • who is providing care or support to a member of their immediate family or household who is experiencing a situation of domestic violence.

2. Definitions, Terms, Acronyms

Domestic violence - In accordance with the Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act 2012 (Qld), domestic violence is the behaviour by a person (the first person) towards another person (the second person), with whom the first person is in a relevant relationship that:

a) Is physically or sexually abusive; or

b) Is emotionally or psychologically abusive; or

c) Is economically abusive; or

d) Is threatening; or

e) Is coercive; or

f) In any other way controls or dominates the second person and causes the second person to fear for the second person’s safety or well-being or that of someone else.

Please refer to Part 2 of the Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act 2012 (Qld) for more information and examples of domestic violence behaviour.

Enterprise Agreement - The University of Queensland Enterprise Agreement 2014 – 2017

Relevant relationship - defined in accordance with the Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act 2012 (Qld) as:

a) an intimate personal relationship; or

b) a family relationship; or

c) an informal care relationship.

3. Guidelines Scope/Coverage

These guidelines apply to all continuing, research (contingent funded), fixed-term and casual staff members.

4. Guidelines Statement

The University of Queensland supports the principle that domestic violence is unacceptable at home and in the workplace. The University is committed to providing a safe work environment for all staff, which is free from fear and abuse.

The University of Queensland recognises that domestic violence may have an impact beyond an individual’s personal life, and may affect an individual both directly and indirectly in the workplace over a prolonged period of time.

The University of Queensland offers support to staff members affected by a situation of domestic violence through the provision of leave, flexible work arrangements and other support mechanisms as outlined in this guideline. Any requests of this nature will be treated with confidentiality and sensitivity.

5. Leave Options

The University of Queensland provides a number of leave entitlements to staff members as outlined in the Enterprise Agreement. Where a staff member is unable to attend work as a result of domestic violence, a staff member may access paid Special Leave; and/or Personal Leave; and/or other leave as appropriate.

5.1 Special Leave

Special Leave is available in situations of domestic violence. A staff member who is experiencing a situation of domestic violence may access Special Leave for reasons such as:

  • Relocating to alternative accommodation, such as to a temporary shelter;
  • Seeking Police assistance; or
  • Attending court, e.g. in relation to a domestic violence order.

In situations of domestic violence, the University acknowledges that it may not be possible to provide notice of the intention to take leave. A staff member who is unable to attend work should notify their Supervisor of their inability to attend work and the anticipated length of absence as soon as reasonably practicable.

To assist the University in providing Special Leave due to a situation of domestic violence, a staff member may need to provide relevant documentation to support their leave application, for example:

  • a letter from a lawyer;
  • a court document;
  • a police report; or
  • a document from another relevant Agency or Shelter.

The University acknowledges that in some circumstances this evidence may need to be provided retrospectively.

To apply for Special Leave, please refer to the Special Leave Procedures for further information.

5.2 Personal Leave (Sick and Carer's)

A staff member who is unfit for work because of personal illness or injury is entitled to access Personal Leave (Sick and Carer's).

Personal Leave (Sick and Carer's) is also available to a staff member to provide care or support to a member of the staff member’s immediate or extended family, household, or significant other, who requires care or support because of a personal illness, or injury, affecting the member; or an unexpected emergency affecting the member.

To apply for Personal Leave, please refer to the Personal Leave Procedures for further information.

5.3 Recreation and Long Service Leave

A staff member may also use Recreation and Long Service Leave entitlements where appropriate in accordance with the relevant procedure.

6. Flexible Work Arrangements

A staff member who is experiencing a situation of domestic violence, or who is providing care or support to a member of their immediate family or household who is experiencing domestic violence, may consider varying their current work arrangements through a flexible work arrangement. A flexible work arrangement may include, for example, a variation to a current service fraction, or a change in start and finishing times.

In accordance with the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth), a staff member has the right to request a flexible work arrangement where:

  • The staff member is experiencing domestic violence from a member of the staff members family; or
  • Where a staff member provides care or support to a member of their immediate family, or a member of their household, who requires care or support because the member is experiencing violence from the members family.

Where a flexible work arrangement is requested in accordance with the Fair Work Act 2009, the University will provide a formal response to the requesting staff member within 21 working days. A request may only be refused on reasonable business grounds.

For more information, please refer to the Flexible Working Arrangements Policy which outlines the various flexible working arrangements that a staff member may request in accordance with the relevant Procedure.

7. Safety at Work

7.1 Campus security

The University recognises that a staff member experiencing a situation of domestic violence may have concerns about their safety at work.

The UniSafe website has a variety of safety services available to staff members, which includes:

  • UniSafe and Security Escorts to accompany a staff member to public or personal transport anywhere on campus;
  • A free bus service on the St Lucia campus that stops at a variety of locations around campus, including off site locations as applicable;
  • Increased patrols on preferred pathways; and
  • Emergency Call Points on campus.

For more information on the safety services on campus, or additional security services that may be available, please visit the UniSafe website or call 3365 1234 for general enquiries.

In the case of any emergency on campus, a staff member should phone University Security (all hours) on 3365 3333.

7.2 Work contact details

The University recognises that there may be instances where a staff member who is experiencing a situation of domestic violence may need to change their work contact details, such as their phone number or email address, or remove publically-accessible contact information. A staff member may discuss a request to change their work contact details with their Supervisor, who will liaise with ITS and Human Resources as appropriate.

7.3 Misuse of resources

The University will not tolerate the misuse of University resources to engage in behaviour that threatens, harasses, victimises or abuses another person. Behaviour of this nature may amount to a breach of the University’s Code of Conduct and should be referred to your Supervisor or Human Resources as appropriate.

8. Support and Assistance

8.1 Employee Assistance Program

The University of Queensland’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP), provided by Davidson Trahaire Corpsych, offers confidential counselling on a wide range of personal and work related matters, such as relationships, family, conflict, and self-esteem. The University provides up to six free EAP sessions to all UQ staff members and their immediate family, and can be contacted on 1300 360 364.

Additional support, resources and information can also be obtained through the EAPDirect online service. To access this service, please visit the Staff Support Services webpage for details.

8.2 External support services and information

There are also a number of external support services available to an individual who is affected by a situation of domestic violence.

National Support Services

1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) is a national sexual assault and domestic family violence counselling service. This is a free telephone and online counselling service delivered by qualified and experienced professionals for individuals who are experiencing, or have experienced, domestic family violence and/or sexual assault. The service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Queensland Support Services

For information on the domestic violence support services available throughout Queensland, such as counselling services, free legal advice services, and information on domestic violence behavior change programs, please visit the Queensland Domestic Violence Link website.

The Queensland Government website also provides a number of resources to support individuals experiencing a situation of domestic violence, such as how to plan for safety and where to seek financial and/or legal assistance. For more information, please visit the Queensland Government website.

9. Roles and Responsibilities

9.1 Staff member

A staff member who is experiencing a situation of domestic violence, or who is providing care or support to a member of their immediate family or household who is experiencing domestic violence, is encouraged to speak to their Supervisor or Human Resources to discuss the support options available to them.

A staff member may consider:

  • Utilising support options provided through the University’s Employee Assistance Program;
  • Discussing concerns for safety in the workplace with their Supervisor;
  • Arranging a UniSafe Escort where appropriate; and
  • Leave options and changes to work arrangements as appropriate.

9.2 Supervisor

Supervisors are responsible for providing support and assistance as appropriate, including for example:

  • Discussing workplace support options available to a staff member who may be experiencing a situation of domestic violence;
  • Providing information to a staff member about the University’s Employee Assistance Program; and
  • Referring the staff member to Human Resources as appropriate.

10. Confidentiality

The University of Queensland considers information in relation to a situation of domestic violence to be personal and sensitive information.

The University of Queensland will maintain confidentiality in accordance with PPL 1.60.02 Privacy Management - Policy.

Custodians
Director, Human Resources
Mr Bill Kernahan (Acting)
Custodians
Director, Human Resources
Mr Bill Kernahan (Acting)