From February 2023, the Fair Work Amendment (Paid Family and Domestic Violence Leave) Act 2022 entitled all employees to 10 days of paid family and domestic violence leave each year.
‘Family and domestic violence’ is defined under the Fair Work Act to be “violent, threatening or other abusive behaviour by a close relative of an employee that seeks to coerce or control the employee or causes the employee harm or to be fearful”. The Act further extends this definition to include conduct of “a member of an employee’s household, or a current or former intimate partner of an employee”.
This new paid entitlement will replace the existing 5 days of unpaid family and domestic violence leave under the National Employment Standards. The changes will come into effect from:
- 1 February 2023 for all non-small business employers (employers with 15 or more employees)
- 1 August 2023 for small business employers (employers with less than 15 employees)
The 10 days leave renews every year on the employee’s work anniversary i.e. not accumulating from year to year if not used. Family and domestic violence leave will be payable on the full rate of pay for the hours had they worked if not on leave (as opposed to the base rate of pay). In addition, this new entitlement will be available to casual employees who do not normally have access to paid leave.
For employees to access this entitlement, they will be required to provide their employer notice as soon as possible, along with their anticipated period of leave.
When can employees take paid family and domestic violence leave?
Employees can take leave when:
- they are experiencing family and domestic violence;
- they need to do something to deal with the impact of that violence;
- it is impractical to do so outside their ordinary hours of work.
This may include:
- making arrangements for their safety or the safety of a close relative, such as a dependent child (including relocation);
- attending urgent court hearings; or
- accessing police services.
How will employers need to respond?
Employers must understand the vital role that their workplace plays in supporting employees who are experiencing family and domestic violence. This includes employers being mindful of their work health and safety obligations in respect of employees who access family and domestic violence leave.
This includes taking practical steps to keep information about an employee’s situation confidential. This includes information about an employee taking family and domestic violence leave and evidence that accompanies their request. Record-keeping systems must be adapted and updated to manage family and domestic violence leave entitlements for all employees.
Employers will also need to update their employment contracts and/or leave policies in order to demonstrate this paid leave entitlement for all existing employees.
All new employees should be provided with the updated Fair Work and Casual Employment Information Statements to reflect the new entitlement.
For more information and expert advice, ask to speak to a lawyer at Ezra Legal on (08) 8231 6100 or email email@example.com
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