Australia Introduces Unpaid Family and Domestic Violence Leave

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Australia Introduces Unpaid Family and Domestic Violence Leave

Following a recent Fair Work Commission decision, from the 1 August 2018 employees under an industry or occupation award will be eligible to take five (5) days unpaid leave to deal with family and domestic violence issues.  

All industry and occupation awards will be updated shortly to include the new clause, which allows employees (including casuals) to take unpaid leave to deal with family and domestic violence issues if required and it is impractical to do so outside their ordinary hours of work.  

Whilst most employees will have access to this leave, those who fall under an Enterprise Award or State reference public sector award are not able to apply for this leave. However, they may be entitled to other paid or unpaid entitlements under their award to access for these such circumstances. 

Employees are entitled to the full 5 days of leave from the day they begin employment as it does not build up over time. The 5 days renew after every 12 months but doesn’t accumulate from year to year if unused.  

If, in the instance that a business provides paid or unpaid family and domestic violence leave to employees through a signed contract and the amount stated is less than the new minimum, then the amount in the updated award will apply. 

An employer may request evidence which demonstrates that the employee took the leave to deal with issues arisen from family and domestic violence. Types of evidence can include: 

  • Documents issued by the police
  • Documents issued by a court
  • Family violence support service documents
  • Statutory Declaration

Due to the sensitive nature surrounding the leave, employers should be aware that information regarding an employee’s experience of family or domestic violence is confidential and, if handled poorly, could result in adverse consequences for the employee. Furthermore, it may be necessary to review how business’ record the leave on pay slips and timesheets.    

You can read more about the new Family and Domestic Violence leave on the Fair Work Commission website – here

The Queensland Government’s Industrial Relations Act 2016 offers ten (10) days of paid domestic and family violence leave to employees – here 

Enterprise Awards and State Reference Public Sector Awards – here 

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