Dynamic Business Logo
Home Button
Bookmark Button

What you need to know about domestic violence leave

From the first full pay period on or after 1 August 2018, Modern Awards will be varied to allow employees access to 5 days of unpaid family and domestic violence leave each year.

Senior Employment Adviser, from workplace specialist firm Employsure, Nicholas Hackenberg said, “this is the first time the Fair Work Commission and the Fair Work Ombudsman are making it a requirement for business owners to have a policy for dealing with domestic violence and supporting victims.”

He adds, “Employers should always take the necessary steps to ensure staff feel comfortable talking to them about sensitive topics such as domestic violence. They need to reassure their staff that all conversations will be handled appropriately and will be confidential.”

Hackenberg answers a few important questions.

What is the entitlement?

Employees covered by an Award with the new clause are entitled to 5 days of unpaid family and domestic violence leave each year. 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, or causes them fear or harm.

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.

Who does it apply to?

This entitlement applies to “all employees, including casuals,who are covered by an industry or occupation based Award. It does not apply to state system employees, or employees otherwise not covered by an Award.”

Men suffer domestic violence, too.

Domestic violence in men is understudied and often hidden. According to Australian Institute of Criminology figures, one woman is killed by an intimate partner or ex-partner every nine days. One man is killed by his partner about every 30 days. So, it is important to acknowledge that male violence is “still, one too many” Hackenberg said.

Despite this leave being introduced largely from public pressure to protect women, Hackenberg said “employers cannot assume men are exempt from domestic violence. Especially, since statistics show many men suffer but are afraid or embarrassed to come forward.”

How much proof will an employee have to provide so they can be eligible for this new leave entitlement?

“The law is deliberately flexible to make it accessible. Therefore, there is no requirement for an AVO to be in place. However, there are some good ways to validate the request. The evidence can come in a number of forms; such as a police report, court documents, a note from a family violence support service, or a statutory declaration,” said Hackenberg.

What do employers need to do now?

According to Hackenberg, it’s essential for employers to communicate this new leave entitlement to employees, to ensure they are aware of how and when to notify them of their request for this leave. “The notice requirements are similar to personal leave requests. Employers can set their expectations. The best way to do this is to first have an open and relaxed conversation with employees about this leave entitlement and how they want them to approach taking some time off. Then, employers should include it in their policy.”

Are there any do’s or don’ts?

Dos: “Employers must remind their employees they will consider all the information they receive as confidential.”

Don’ts:“Employers cannot assume men are exempt from domestic violence. Especially, since statistics show many men suffer but are afraid or embarrassed to come forward.’

What do you think?

    Be the first to comment

Add a new comment

Gali Blacher

Gali Blacher

Gali Blacher, editor, Dynamic Business

View all posts