Family and domestic violence is increasingly being recognised as not only a social issue that affects communities and impacts on countless lives everyday but also a workplace issue.
Since February 2015 in Queensland, State public sector, local government employees and the employees of a number of statutory authorities have been entitled to 10 days paid domestic and family violence leave. In January 2018, the Full Bench of the Fair Work Commission commenced the four (4) yearly review of modern awards. Out of this review, the Fair Work Commission determined that from 1 August 2018, a new family and domestic violence leave clause would be inserted into 123 modern awards. Across Australia full time, part time and causal employees paid in accordance with these awards are now entitled to five (5) days of unpaid family and domestic violence leave if they are experiencing these issues and require time off work.
In September 2018, a push to expand this entitlement to all workers covered by the Fair Work Act, including those employed under enterprise agreements and individual contracts, commenced by introduction of the Family and Domestic Violence Leave Bill into parliament. This would see Family and Domestic Violence Leave available to up to six million additional workers by adding it to the National Employment Standards (NES) along with other minimum employment standards such as annual leave, personal carer’s (sick) leave etc. At present the bill is still being considered but has had strong support so far.
Employers should respond to the Modern Award update and the likely changes to the NES by documenting or updating their leave policies and considering the privacy implications of this particular type of leave. The policy should not only define the entitlement, process for applying for leave and other rules surrounding taking of family and domestic violence leave but also cover procedural issues such as how information provided by the worker will remain confidential, avenues for workers to confide in a manager they feel comfortable with regarding matters of family and domestic violence and also other responses which the employer may initiate such as referral to other organisations that can help individuals with these issues.
For further information on family and domestic violence leave or any other HR matters, contact Masula Compliance by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone on 3348 3666. FWC cases, decisions and orders are available on the FWC Website (www.fwc.gov.au).