Family and Domestic Violence Leave

Beginning on 12 December 2018, every Australian employee, including casual workers, will have the right to take up to five days of unpaid family and domestic violence leave annually as part of the National Employment Standards (NES) outlined in the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (the FW Act).

The Fair Work Amendment (Family and Domestic Violence Leave) Bill 2018 extends the decision made by the Fair Work Commission (FWC) in March 2018, which granted five days of unpaid leave to employees covered by modern awards. The entitlement provided by the NES aligns with the entitlement outlined in modern awards.

Entitlement to Family & Domestic Violence Leave

Every employee has the right to take up to five days of unpaid family and domestic violence leave per year to address situations of family and domestic violence. This leave is fully accessible at the start of employment but does not carry over from one year to the next.

According to the FW Act and modern awards, family and domestic violence is defined as “violent, threatening, or other abusive behaviour by a family member of an employee that aims to coerce or control the employee and results in harm or fear for their safety.”

Family and domestic violence leave is available for employees who:

  • Are experiencing family and domestic violence.
  • Need to deal with the impact of family and domestic violence, where it is impractical to do so outside of ordinary hours of work.

The reasons an employee may take leave includes planning for their safety or the safety of a family member, attending urgent court hearings, or accessing police service.

Definition of Family Member

For the purpose of this entitlement, a family member encompasses the immediate family, as well as former spouses or de facto partners and their immediate families. Additionally, it includes individuals related to the employee according to Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander kinship rules.

Confidentiality & Best Practice

Employers should handle requests for unpaid family and domestic violence leave with utmost confidentiality, to the extent that it is feasible to do so.

Evidence Requirements

An employee might need to provide evidence to substantiate their inability to attend work on the designated days for unpaid family and domestic violence leave. Such evidence could comprise documents issued by the police, a court, a family violence support service, or a statutory declaration.

How HR Connect can help

If you require assistance with dealing with disciplinary issues concerning staff, HR Connect can help. Our HR Advisors will be able to guide you through each step of the disciplinary process and we have template documents (e.g. direction to attend a disciplinary meeting, written warning, letter of termination, etc) available as part of our subscription packages.

 

 

About HR Connect

HR Connect is one of Australia’s leading providers of HR & workplace safety advice services, designed to help small business owners make confident and compliant business decisions.

 

Disclaimer

The information provided in these knowledge base articles is general in nature and is not intended to substitute for professional advice. If you are unsure about how this information applies to your specific situation we recommend you contact HR Connect for advice. The information in this summary is correct as of August 2021.

 

This knowledge base article will change over time, as Modern Award legislation relating to this Industry or Occupation is passed by the Fair Work Commission. Originally published on 21 September 2021 and last updated on 18 February 2022.

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