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Family and Domestic Violence Leave to be covered by Modern Awards

The Fair Work Commission (FWC) has decided that workers covered by Modern Awards will now be able to access 5 days of unpaid family and domestic violence leave per year, with an intended effective date of 1 August 2018.

As part of their decision the Commission stated that while men can, and do experience domestic violence, such violence is a gendered phenomenon that disproportionately effects women. Statistics show 1 in 4 women in Australia, equating to nearly 2.2 million, are subject to domestic violence. The Commission added about 62% of women who experienced domestic violence in the last 12 months were in paid work at the time. For those impacted employment is an important pathway out of violent relationships and the provision of domestic violence leave is likely to help employees remain in employment.

The leave is available where the employee:

  • is experiencing family and domestic violence; and
  • needs to do something to deal with the impact of the family and domestic violence (e.g. relocation, attending urgent court hearings, accessing police services) and it is impractical for the employee to do that thing outside their ordinary hours of work.

The FWC has importantly decided that the 5 days unpaid family and domestic violence leave:

  • will apply to all employees (including casuals);
  • will be available in full at the commencement of each 12 month period rather than accruing progressively during a year of service;
  • will not accumulate from year to year; and
  • will be available in full to part-time and casual employees (i.e. not pro-rated).

What do you need to do?

Whilst the Modern Awards have not yet been amended to include the model term for the family and domestic violence leave, organisations should now commence preparations for the change which is expected to take effect from 1 August 2018, including, for example:

  • reviewing and updating existing policies and procedures to incorporate the new entitlement;
  • advising employees of the change and how this effects their current leave entitlements;
  • consider the confidential treatment of the information provided by employees in relation to applications for family and domestic violence leave, given the sensitive nature of the information; and
  • consider educating your HR staff and leaders so they understand how they may be able to assist an employee suffering from domestic violence.

Hanrick Curran’s Human Resource Consulting Division supports our clients by providing comprehensive HR consulting services.  If you would like more information regarding the family and domestic violence leave or require assistance with implementing the above changes in your workplace please contact your usual Hanrick Curran Advisor or alternatively our Human Resource Division on 07 3218 3955.

Please note that this publication is intended to provide a general summary and should not be relied upon as a substitute for personal advice.