A recent Fair Work Commission decision entitles most employees to 5 days of unpaid leave to address issues with family and domestic violence. All industry and occupation awards now include a new clause about family and domestic violence leave, which takes effect from the first full pay period on or after 1 August 2018.
What is family and domestic violence?
Family and domestic violence is threatening, violent or abusive behaviour that occurs between people who have or have had a domestic relationship. When an employee’s family member tries to coerce or control the employee, this is a form of family and domestic violence. When the family member causes harm or fear to the employee, this is also family and domestic violence.
Who is considered a family member of an employee?
A family member could be a spouse or former spouse, de facto partner or former de facto partner, child, parent, grandparent, grandchild or sibling of an employee. The child, parent, grandparent, grandchild or sibling of a current or former spouse or de facto partner is also considered a family member of the employee. Finally, any person related to the employee according to Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander kinship rules is also a family member.
What does the family and domestic violence leave entail?
Family and domestic violence leave gives employees access to 5 days of unpaid leave to deal with the effects of family and domestic violence. The leave allows them to attend court hearings and access police services. Family and domestic violence leave also gives employees time to make arrangements for their safety or the safety of their family member.
Which employees are entitled to family and domestic violence leave?
Family and domestic violence leave applies to all employees covered by an industry or occupation based award. The list of employee awards is available online. In addition, the Fair Work website has an online process to help employees find the right award for them.
Which employees are exempted from this entitlement?
Employees covered by enterprise awards and state reference public sector awards are exempted from family and domestic violence leave. Employees covered by enterprise and other registered agreements are also not entitled to the new leave in awards, but their agreement might incorporate the leave or similar entitlements. Lastly, employees who are not covered by any award or agreement are not entitled to family and domestic violence leave.
You can check your employee’s agreement on the Fair Work Commission website.
To find more information about employee entitlements, visit Fair Work’s award & agreement free wages & conditions web page.
When can employees take family and domestic violence leave?
Employees who must deal with the impact of family and domestic violence outside work hours can take the leave. They don’t have to take all 5 days of unpaid leave at once. The leave can be taken as single or multiple days. If the employer permits it, employees can take less than 1 day of leave at a time or more than 5 days of unpaid leave.
How can employees claim their 5 days of unpaid leave?
Employees who plan to take their leave must provide substantial evidence of family and domestic violence. Otherwise, their employer could refuse to let them take the leave. The evidence must adequately show that the employees need time outside ordinary work hours to deal with family and domestic violence. The employees can provide documents issued by the police, a court or family violence support service as evidence. They can also show a statutory declaration to their employer.
Who can help employees deal with family and domestic violence leave?
Various Australian charities support people who find themselves in situations of family and domestic violence. If you need help, please don’t hesitate to contact the following organizations:
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