From 1 August 2018, modern awards were varied to include the family and domestic violence leave. This means that employees covered by a modern award are entitled to take five days’ unpaid leave if they are affected by family or domestic violence.
The changes do not extend to employees covered by an enterprise agreement (unless that agreement includes its own entitlement to domestic violence leave) or to award free employees.
What is family and domestic violence?
Family and domestic violence is defined to mean violent, threatening or other abusive behaviour by a family member of an employee that seeks to coerce or control the employee and that causes them harm or to be fearful.
A family member will include:
- a spouse (including former spouse), de facto partner (including former de facto partner), child, parent, grandparent, grandchild or sibling of the employee; or
- a child, parent, grandparent, grandchild or sibling of a spouse or de facto partner of the employee; or
- a person related to the employee according to Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander kinship rules.
The entitlement to family and domestic violence leave
The entitlement to family and domestic violence leave is available in full to full-time, part-time and casual employees covered by a modern award.
An employee is entitled to five days’ unpaid leave to deal with the impact of family or domestic violence and the leave is available in full at the beginning of each 12 month period of an employee’s employment;
The leave does not accumulate from year to year and neither annual leave nor personal leave can be accrued on time taken as family or domestic violence leave as it does not count as service. However, leave taken does not break the employee’s continuity of service.
Arrangements for taking family and domestic violence leave
Family or domestic violence can be taken part of a day with agreement from the employer to deal with the impact of family or domestic violence which may include;
- making arrangements for safety;
- attending an appointment or hearing in relation to family or domestic violence;
- accessing police services;
The employer and employee may agree that the employee may take more than 5 days unpaid leave to deal with family and domestic violence;
Notice and evidence requirements
Notice must be given by the employee who intends to take family and domestic violence leave soon as practicable and may be given after the leave has commenced. At the time of giving notice, the employee must also advise the employer of the period or expected period of the leave.
Evidence must be provided to an employer upon request that would satisfy a reasonable person that the leave is taken for the purpose of dealing with family and domestic violence. Such evidence may include documents issued by the police, court or a family violence support service, or a statutory declaration.
Notice and evidence provided by an employee must be treated as confidential, as far as it is reasonably practicable to do so.