Qantas and the ASU have just announced a groundbreaking agreement that will see the airline expand parental and domestic violence leave options for 30,000 employees. Is it time more organisations did the same?
The deal, which is due to be rolled out later this year, adds 10 days to family and domestic violence leave entitlements, as well as two weeks of parental leave. Workers will also receive two bonus annual payments. The airline joins the ranks of employers who have taken action on domestic and family violence, including Virgin Australia, NAB and Telstra.
Last week, employees voted by a majority of almost 94 per cent in favour of the agreement, one of the most strongly supported enterprise agreements in the airline’s history. The deal is seen as a trade-off for the inclusion of an 18-month wage freeze that the union described in February as a “hard sell.”
The agreement guarantees the parental leave and domestic violence leave entitlements to the 4300 workers at head office, as well as employees in its call centres, airport and check-in workers, catering, freight and engineering personnel.
In return for their “outstanding contribution,” CEO Alan Joyce announced bonus payments totalling $75 million for up to 25,000 employees. These include a one-off 5 per cent payment, and a record result amount of $3000 for full-time employees and $2500 for part-time employees. The cash bonuses come on the back of Qantas logging a record $1 billion net profit.
Qantas has also agreed to boost paid parental leave from 12 to 14 weeks, with the two extra weeks paid directly into employees super, unless they elect otherwise.
Qantas’ modelling indicates that this option will increase an employee’s super on retirement by $50,000. It is designed specifically to address the inequality experienced by women who have taken career breaks to care for children.
However, it’s in the domestic and family violence leave entitlement where the airline has shown itself as an employer in tune with current workplace issues. Anti-violence campaign group White Ribbon Australia applauded the move, and says that all employers should be supporting victims of domestic abuse with specified leave entitlements.
The move by Qantas sits in stark contrast to the Commonwealth Public Service, which suffered a reversal of policy over family and domestic violence earlier this year. Malcolm Turnbull’s department, the Human Services Department and the Australian Taxation Office to name just three, removed the right of their employees to take time off if they are victims of family and domestic violence. The service is overseen by the Minister for Women, Michaelia Cash.