In Australia, everyone deserves to feel safe and supported. Unfortunately, for many people, home is not always a safe haven. Domestic violence affects many Australians, and it is a serious problem that needs to be addressed. To help individuals who are experiencing family and domestic violence, the Australian Government has implemented a new entitlement – paid family and domestic violence leave.
What is Paid Family and Domestic Violence Leave?
Paid Family and Domestic Violence Leave is a recent development in the Australian workplace, which aims to help employees experiencing domestic or family violence. This new entitlement allows employees to take paid time off work if:
- They are experiencing family and domestic violence
- They need to take action to deal with its impact, and
- It is impractical for them to do so outside of their work hours.
What are employees entitled to?
All national system employees, including part-time and casual employees, are entitled to 10 days of paid family and domestic violence leave. This entitlement is an increase from the previous 5 days of unpaid family and domestic violence leave.
The increased entitlement will be effective from:
- 1 February 2023 for non-small business employers (15 or more employees)
- 1 August 2023 for small business employers (less than 15 employees)
Until then, all national system employees are still entitled to 5 days of unpaid family and domestic violence leave.
What is Considered Family and Domestic Violence?
Family and domestic violence can take many forms, including physical, sexual, psychological, and economic abuse. It can be perpetrated by a close relative, a member of the employee’s household, or a current or former intimate partner, with the intention of coercing or controlling the employee and causing them harm or fear.
Identifying close relatives under Australian law includes spouses, de facto partners, children, parents, grandparents, siblings, and relatives according to Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander kinship rules.
How Does Paid Family and Domestic Violence Leave Work?
Understanding how Paid Family and Domestic Violence Leave works is crucial for both employers and employees. The entitlement provides 10 days of paid leave for full-time, part-time, and casual employees, which will reset on the 12-month anniversary of their employment. Importantly, the entitlement is not on a pro-rata basis, meaning that part-time and casual employees receive the full entitlement.
It’s worth noting that the entitlement does not accrue and will not accumulate from year to year if it remains unused. Ensuring financial stability during a difficult time is crucial, and that’s why paid family and domestic violence leave includes full pay for both full-time and part-time employees. This means that during their leave, they will receive the same pay as if they were still working.
Casual employees are also entitled to full pay, but only for the hours they were scheduled to work or have agreed to work. All types of pay, including incentives, bonuses, allowances, and penalty rates, will still be included in their payment. It’s a small but significant way to support those who are dealing with family and domestic violence.
Using Paid Family and Domestic Violence Leave with Other Leave Entitlements
It’s important to note that the new entitlement of 10 days paid family and domestic violence leave can be used in conjunction with other leave entitlements. This means that if an employee is already on paid annual leave or paid personal/carer’s leave and they experience family and domestic violence, they can take paid family and domestic violence leave instead without it being counted as their other leave entitlement.
Employees won’t be forced to choose between using their leave for a much-needed break or dealing with the impact of family and domestic violence. They can use their paid family and domestic violence leave to deal with necessary arrangements like attending court hearings, accessing police services, or arranging relocation.
It’s important to remember that the entitlement of paid family and domestic violence leave is not meant to replace other forms of leave entitlements. Instead, it provides a much-needed option for employees who may not have access to other forms of leave or may have exhausted their other entitlements.
Overall, this new entitlement offers flexibility and support for employees dealing with family and domestic violence, allowing them to prioritise their safety and well-being without worrying about the impact on their job or leave entitlements.
Providing Notice and Evidence
When an employee takes this leave, they must inform their employer as soon as possible and provide the expected period of leave. Employers may request evidence of the family and domestic violence that would reasonably establish the employee’s entitlement to the leave. This can include documents such as medical certificates, police reports, court documents, or a statutory declaration. Employers should handle this information sensitively and confidentially, and ensure that any requests for evidence are made in a reasonable and supportive manner.
Safeguarding Employees and Maintaining Confidentiality
As an employer, ensuring the safety and privacy of employees who are facing family and domestic violence is of utmost importance.
It’s vital that employers do not include any reference to family and domestic violence leave on the employees payslip. This simple measure helps prevent further harm, especially if the perpetrator has access to the employee’s payslip. Even recording the leave as any other type of absence must only be done upon specific request by the employee.
Instead, employers must record the leave as ordinary hours or another type of payment that the employee is entitled to, such as an allowance, bonus, or overtime. This helps maintain the confidentiality of the employee’s situation and ensures that they are not put at any further risk from their perpetrator.
Prioritising Employee Safety, Well-being, and Support
As an employer, it’s crucial to create a safe and supportive workplace culture that prioritises the well-being of your employees, especially those impacted by family and domestic violence. This includes offering relevant training and support to employees and meeting your obligations regarding paid leave. By doing so, you can help employees feel valued, supported, and encouraged to disclose their experiences, which can make a significant difference in their well-being and productivity.
The introduction of paid family and domestic violence leave is a significant step in supporting victims of domestic violence in the workplace. This entitlement will provide a much-needed support system for employees who are experiencing family and domestic violence, allowing them to take the necessary steps to deal with the impact of the violence, without having to worry about financial consequences.
The increased entitlement to paid family and domestic violence leave will be a welcome relief for many employees, who may have previously been forced to take unpaid leave or use other types of leave to deal with the impact of the violence.
As a society, it is crucial that we stand in solidarity with victims of family and domestic violence and strive to create a safe and inclusive environment for all individuals. While the introduction of paid family and domestic violence leave is not the ultimate solution, it is a significant step forward in facilitating workplaces to support employees dealing with such issues. It is essential to encourage a culture of empathy and understanding, and providing paid leave is a positive step towards building a more compassionate and supportive workplace.