In response to an increasing focus on reducing domestic violence, new leave entitlements are set to take effect from 1 August 2018 to enable all employees, including casuals, to be entitled to 5 days’ unpaid leave to deal with family and domestic violence.
In a recent ruling the Fair Work Commission said retaining employment is an important pathway out of violent relationships. Conversely, a lack of financial security has an adverse impact on the ability to recover from family and domestic violence. Absent an entitlement to unpaid family and domestic violence leave, employees will be reliant on the goodwill of their employer to obtain the leave necessary to deal with the various issues arising from family and domestic violence while remaining in employment. The commission decided not to require employees to access their available paid leave entitlement before accessing unpaid family and domestic violence leave. The leave covers employees that need to make arrangements for their safety or the safety of a family member (including relocation), attend urgent court hearings, or access police services.
An employee may take unpaid leave to deal with family and domestic violence if the employee:
(a) is experiencing family and domestic violence; and
(b) needs to do something to deal with the impact of the family and domestic violence and it is impractical for the employee to do that thing outside their ordinary hours of work.
Provisions for Family and Domestic Violence Leave will be part of most employment Awards come August 1st 2018. Human Resources, Work Health and Safety and Learning and Development departments will need to align to this change, including updating company policies and making staff aware of their new entitlement.
The Fair Work Commission:
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