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NEW: Unpaid Leave to Deal with Family and Domestic Violence.

The Fair Work Commission will soon be updating all industry and occupation awards to include a new clause that allows employees to take unpaid leave to deal with the impact of family and domestic violence. This new clause will apply from the first full pay period on or after 1 August 2018.

Who does it apply to?

The new entitlement applies to all employees who are covered by an industry or occupation award.

It does NOT apply to employees who are:

  • covered by Enterprise awards
  • covered by State reference public sector awards
  • covered by enterprise and other registered agreements
  • award and agreement free.

What is the new entitlement?

Employees covered by an award with the new clause are entitled to five days of unpaid family and domestic violence leave each year. For the purposes of the entitlement, 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 harm or fear”.

Employees can take the leave if they need to deal with the impact of family and domestic violence and it is impractical to do so outside their ordinary hours of work.

An employee that needs to take this type of leave must notify their employers as soon as possible – this can happen after the leave has started.

An employer can ask their employee for evidence that shows the employee took the leave to deal with family and domestic violence. If the employee doesn’t provide the requested evidence, they may not get family and domestic violence leave.

The evidence has to convince a reasonable person that the employee took the leave to deal with the impact of family and domestic violence.

Types of evidence

  • Types of evidence can include:
  • documents issued by the police service
  • documents issued by a court
  • family violence support service documents, or
  • a statutory declaration.

As with anything payroll, information pertaining to this leave type should remain confidential.

The five days of unpaid leave will be available at the commencement of each 12-month period, rather than accruing progressively during a year of service, and the leave will not accumulate from year to year meaning it is available from the commencement of employment.

Most significantly, the five full days of unpaid leave will be available to both part-time and casual employees. This is different to some other forms of leave that are not provided at all to casual employees.

It should be noted that this type of leave does not break an employee’s continuous service but does not contribute to entitlements when accruing paid leave.

What to do next?

Cloud payroll services offered by E-Payoffice are routinely updated to incorporate any legislated changes to Awards or staff entitlements. If an employee applies for unpaid leave for domestic violence or to deal with family violence our system can accurately record and reflect that entitlement.

The extent to which employees will access the new entitlement to unpaid leave is unknown, as is its impact on businesses. The Commission therefore proposes to revisit the issue in 2021, after the model term has been in operation for three years.

For more information on the new domestic violence leave entitlements, visit the Fair Work website (www.fairwork.gov.au) for details of the new clause, who it does and doesn’t apply to, when and how the leave can be taken and any notice and evidence requirements.