On 1 February 2023 new legislation has come into affect which enables employees to have access to additional leave when they are experiencing family violence. Fair work has introduced a new workplace right that offers 10 days of paid leave to employees experiencing domestic and family violence. This change in the law marks a crucial step forward in supporting those affected by family violence and ensuring their safety.
Domestic and family violence is a serious issue that affects thousands of individuals across Australia. It not only impacts their physical and mental health but also their ability to perform at work. This new law provides employees with the time and support they need to escape violent situations, seek legal protection, and attend to any related medical or legal matters.
The leave entitles employees to:
- Make arrangements for their safety or the safety of others;
- Attend court hearings;
- Attend appointments – counselling, medical, financial or legal professionals; and
- Access police services if needed.
Who Is Protected?
The new law applies to all employees regardless of the length of service or type of contract and is available to both men and women. This includes full-time, part-time, casual, and seasonal workers. Employees are also protected from discrimination or retaliation by their employer for taking such leave.
From Feb 1 2023, employees of non-small business employers (employers with 15 or more employees) can access 10 days of paid family domestic violence leave (FDVL) in a 12-month period. This also applies to part-time and casual employees. It comes from the National Employment Standards (NES).
From 1 August 2023 employees employed by small businesses (15 employees or less) can access paid leave. Currently, they can take unpaid family and domestic violence leave. Unpaid leave of this nature is 5 days per year. It’s a minimum unpaid leave entitlement.
How Is It Acquired?
The FDVL can be taken upfront. This means that individuals are not required to accumulate it over time. It does not roll over from year to year if it is not used. The leave renews every year on each employee’s work anniversary. FDVL can be taken as single or multiple days. An employer and employee can also agree for an employee to take less than one day at a time.
Full-time and part-time employees can take FDVL at their full pay rate as if they were working. Casual employees will be paid at their full pay rate for the hours they were rostered. The full pay rate includes the employee base rate plus any incentive-based payments and bonuses, loadings, monetary allowances, overtime or penalty rates.
How Can I Tell My Employer?
The notice to the employee must be done as soon as practically possible (dependent on circumstances). An employer can ask for evidence to show that the employee needs to deal with family violence issues that cannot be dealt with outside of work hours.
Evidence can include:
- A statutory declaration;
- Documents issued by the police service;
- Documents issued by a court; or
- Family violence support service document
This information must not be used for other purposes. This means that your employer could not take adverse of you using what you have disclosed to them.
What About My Confidentiality?
Employers are also obliged to maintain confidentiality and protect the privacy of employees who take domestic and family violence leave to stop this helps to ensure that employees feel safe and supported while they take the necessary steps to address their situation.
There are also new rules about what can and cannot be included on an employee’s payslip relating to paid family domestic violence leave. Pay slips must not mention family and domestic violence, intended to protect an employee’s safety when accessing the leave.
Support From Joss Legal
In conclusion – the introduction of domestic and family violence leave in Australia is a positive step towards addressing the issue and providing support to those affected by it.
It highlights the country’s commitment to creating a safe and equitable workplace for all employees and recognizes the importance of addressing this critical issue. With this new law in place individuals experiencing domestic and family violence can take the time they need to address their situation and regain control of their lives.
If you or someone you know is experiencing sexual abuse or family violence some useful contacts are:
- National Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence Counselling Service 24-hour helpline 1800 RESPECT on 1800 737 732
- 24-hour Emergency Accommodation helpline on 1800 800 588
- Sexual Assault Support Services on 6231 1811, or after hours 6231 1817
- Family Violence Crisis and Support Service on 1800 608 122;
- Lifeline on 13 11 14
- Men who have anger, relationship or parenting issues, should contact the Men’s Referral Service on 1300 766 491 or the Don’t Become That Man helpline on 1300 243 413
If you have questions about this, or more general employment law questions, please contact our team of lawyers on (08) 6559 7480.
Prepared by Kym Barrett-Lennard