The national implementation of the new family and domestic violence leave policy, replaces the previous unpaid family and domestic violence leave available, entitling employees with paid leave to manage the impacts of violence. This leave is available to all employees (including casuals), providing access to 10 days of paid leave in a 12-month period.
Defining Family and Domestic Violence
This policy defines domestic violence, as violent, threatening, or abusive behaviour by a close relative, current or former intimate partner, or household member that seeks to control or harm.
Benefits of the new paid leave policy
The newly introduced paid family and domestic violence leave policy has far-reaching benefits for employees in Australia. It offers greater financial stability for those affected by domestic violence, as employees are no longer obligated to sacrifice their wage to seek help and support. This change is expected to enhance access to assistance and eliminate financial obstacles for those seeking aid.
When can I access this leave?
The size of your workplace determines when you can access this leave. Employees of non-small businesses, with 15 or more employees can access this paid leave as of February 1, 2023, while employees of small businesses with fewer than 15 employees can access it from August 1, 2023. In the meantime, under the National Employment Standards (NES), small business employees continue to be eligible for five days of unpaid family and domestic violence leave.
What can this leave be used for?
The leave can be used broadly for various reasons related to the impact of family and domestic violence including making safety arrangements, attending court hearings, accessing police services, or seeking counselling or appointments with medical, financial, or legal professionals.
Under the new policy, how do I apply for domestic violence leave and how will it be managed by my employer?
Employees are encouraged to promptly notify their employer when taking paid family and domestic violence leave. They may also be required to provide some documentation demonstrating they need to attend to an obligation to manage the impacts of domestic violence and it’s impractical to carry this out during outside of work hours.
Whilst it may be difficult for some people to disclose to an employer, it may be of comfort to hear that an employer can only use this information to confirm the employee’s entitlement to the leave and cannot use it for other purposes. The information must not appear on the employee’s pay slip for safety reasons.
Employers must keep records of leave taken and the remaining annual balance, as it is not an accrued based leave.
What if my workplace has its own Family and Domestic Violence leave policy?
Different employers may have different leave entitlements in registered agreements, employment contracts, or workplace policies. However, at a minimum, all non-small businesses must adhere to the new entitlement of 10 days of paid leave, or the soon to be replaced NES unpaid leave for small businesses.
For more information, please visit the Fair Work Ombudsman Website: https://www.fairwork.gov.au/leave/family-and-domestic-violence-leave
If you would like to discuss any family and domestic violence concerns or require more tailored legal advice, please contact Nicholes Family Lawyers where we are experienced with assisting clients with a range of family violence issues.