A Fair Work Commission decision has resulted in employees now being entitled to take unpaid leave to deal with family and domestic violence.
The Fair Work Commission has taken steps to update industry and occupation awards to include a new clause about family and domestic violence and this clause came into effect from the first full pay period on or after 1 August 2018.
The changes do not apply to employees who are:-
- covered by Enterprise awards;
- covered by State reference public sector awards;
- covered by enterprise and other registered agreements; and
- award and agreement free.
Those covered by the changes to the industry and occupation awards and now entitled to 5 days unpaid family and domestic violence leave.
Family and domestic violence means violent, threatening or other abusive behaviour by an employee’s family member that:-
- seeks to coerce or control the employee
- causes them harm or fear.
Employees can take the leave if they need to deal with the impact of family and domestic violence and it’s impractical to do so outside their ordinary hours of work such as:-
- making arrangements for their safety, or safety of a family member (including relocation);
- attending court hearings; or
- accessing police services.
Employees are entitled to the full 5 days from the day they start work – they don’t have to build it up over time. The 5 days renews each 12 months but don’t accumulate from year to year if it isn’t used.
Employers have the right to request evidence that shows that the employee took the leave to deal with family and domestic violence. The evidence provided by an employee may include:-
- documents issued by the police service;
- documents issued by a court;
- family violence support service documents; or
- a statutory declaration.
Employers can ask employees to provide evidence for as little as 1 day or less off work.
Employers will have a duty to keep information about the employee’s situation confidential especially as the information provided by the employee will be extremely sensitive. This includes information about the employee giving notice as well as any evidence that is provided.
If you are unsure what your obligations are with respect to this new domestic violence leave or require advice on your employment contracts and HR issues generally, then please contact a member of our experienced team.