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Family and Domestic Violence Leave

As part of its four-yearly review of modern awards, The Fair Work Commission has ruled that domestic violence leave is an entitlement to all employees covered by an industry or occupation award.

Employees covered by an award with the new clause are entitled to 5 days of unpaid family and domestic violence leave each year.

The new leave provisions are estimated to be available for 2.3 million workers on modern awards, but the federal government plans to boost that number through legislation.

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
  • 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’s impractical to do so outside their ordinary hours of work.

From a practical employment management standpoint, 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 can include:

  • documents issued by the police service
  • documents issued by a court
  • family violence support service documents, or
  • a statutory declaration

Employers can ask employees to provide evidence for as little as 1 day or less off work.

The Fair Work Ombudsman’s Media Release on the new unpaid family & domestic violence leave entitlement is available here.

The Fair Work Commission’s decision to introduce Family and Domestic Violence Leave reflects community expectations for all stakeholders to address a major health and welfare issue. Employers are faced with the obligation to develop new processes around the most appropriate ways to address employee absences, evidence requirements and confidentiality. Need some help? Message Bare Bones Consulting online or give us a call.

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Note: Bare Bones Consulting provides HR services for employers. Employees seeking advice on workplace concerns should contact the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94.