Domestic Violence Leave is on its way

Domestic violence can have catastrophic effects on families and often goes well beyond this to affect both the general community and employers (and fellow employees). Although it can affect both genders, it disproportionately affects women.

In their 4 yearly review of modern award– Family and Domestic Violence Summary of Decision , the Fair Work Commission (FWC) cites that family and domestic violence is the leading contributor to death, disability and ill-health among Australian women aged between 15 and 44.

It is from this position that the FWC has handed down a decision that sees the implementation of 5 days of unpaid Domestic Violence Leave for employees covered by modern awards. The commission has deferred a decision on whether employees should be able to access paid personal or carer’s leave for the purpose of taking family and domestic violence leave.
Important note: There are some awards that are the subject of further submissions and the Federal Government has also acknowledged that further legislation will be introduced to provide Domestic Violence Leave to all Australian workers, not just those covered by a modern award.

So what does the FWC decision mean for employers?

You already know you have to track both paid and unpaid leave for your employees so the decision facing you is how to plan for this new form of leave.

The drafting of the model term to provide this leave will be finalised in the very foreseeable future, however, the Full Bench of the FWC has decided that the 5 days of unpaid leave entitlement:

  • will apply to all employees (including casuals)
  • will be available in full at the commencement of each 12 month period rather than accruing progressively during a year of service;
  • will not accumulate from year to year; and
  • will be available in full to part-time and casual employees (i.e. not pro-rated)

How do you plan for this new leave?

So, here are some starting points for you to prepare and plan for this new type of leave:

  • Review your current Leave policies to align with the new entitlement
  • Update leave application forms / processes with new wording
  • Ensure your timesheets and record keeping can capture the new leave
  • Communicate the new leave to your workforce- especially around how it interacts with existing leave types

Why should you prepare?

By proactively preparing for the changes, you will not only show your commitment to the welfare of your employees and their families but you’ll also minimise any possible penalties that might apply to you should you be seen to break this latest workplace law – either knowingly or unwittingly makes little difference in front of the Fair Work Ombudsman.

RAW Human Resources can help you understand the impacts of this new leave and also with updating or creating a leave policy that covers Domestic Violence Leave and more. Contact us now for some initial advice and direction.

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