Unpaid Family And Domestic Violence Leave Extended To All Employees
By James Sanders, Associate, MST Lawyers
MST Lawyers previously reported (here) that a new model clause had been inserted into all modern awards, providing award covered employees with five days of unpaid leave to deal with family and domestic violence.
The Government has since passed legislation that will provide this equivalent unpaid family and domestic violence leave entitlement as part of the National Employment Standards from 12 December 2018.
This means that from 12 December 2018, all Australian national system employees (irrespective of whether they are covered by a modern award, an enterprise agreement or otherwise), will now be entitled to the new unpaid family and domestic violence leave.
This new unpaid family and domestic violence leave is in addition to the personal/carer’s leave provided for in the National Employment Standards and can found at sections 106A to 106E of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth).
What Is ‘Leave To Deal With Family And Domestic Violence’?
All employees, including casual employees, are now entitled to five days of unpaid leave, available in full from the beginning of each 12 month period from the commencement of their employment, to deal with family and domestic violence.
The leave will not accumulate from year to year and is available in full (i.e. not pro-rata) for all full-time, part-time and casual employees.
The leave will be available to an employee who:
- is experiencing family and domestic violence; and
- needs to do something to deal with the impact of family and domestic violence; and
- it is impractical for them to do it outside their ordinary hours of work.
The legislation defines family and domestic violence as ‘violent, threatening or other abusive behaviour by a close relative of an employee that (a) seeks to coerce or control the employee, and (b) that causes them harm or to be fearful’.
A close relative is defined as:
- spouse (or former spouse), de facto partner (or former de facto partner), child, parent, grandparent, grandchild or sibling of the employee;
- a child, parent, grandparent, grandchild or sibling of the employee’s spouse or de factor partner; or
- a person related to the employee according to Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander kinship rules.
Additional Legislative Entitlement
The Australian Council of Trade Unions has publicly stated that “Ten days paid leave is the minimum”, and the Federal Labor Party has indicated that, if it wins the next federal election, it will legislate ten days of paid domestic and family violence leave.
What This Means For Employers
The introduction of this new leave entitlement is a timely reminder for employers to revisit their policies to update the changes being made in the law and to ensure that all managers are appropriately trained in relation to employees who may require this, and other, types of leave.