Australia: New legislation about domestic violence leave
On 12 December 2018, the Fair Work Amendment (Family and Domestic Violence Leave) Act 2018 (Act) came into effect.
The Act amends the National Employment Standards in the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (Fair Work Act) to create an entitlement for employees covered by the Fair Work Act to receive 5 days of unpaid family and domestic violence leave in a 12 month period.
The unpaid family and domestic violence leave entitlement:
- will be available in full at the start of each 12 month period of the employee’s employment;
- will not accumulate from year to year; and
- will be available in full to part-time and casual employees.
An employee is now entitled to take unpaid and family domestic violence leave if:
- the employee is experiencing family and domestic violence;
- the employee 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 the employee’s ordinary hours of work.
“Family and domestic violence” is defined as violent, threatening or other abusive behaviour by a close relative of an employee that:
- seeks to coerce or control the employee; and
- causes the employee harm or to be fearful.
Since 1 August 2018, all employees covered by a modern award have been entitled to receive unpaid family and domestic violence leave. The model clause inserted into all of the modern awards is largely equivalent to the terms of the entitlement under the National Employment Standards.
As a result of the amendments in the Act, employers covered by the Fair Work Act are now required to provide up to 5 days unpaid family and domestic violence leave per 12 month period to all employees, whether they are covered by a modern award or not.
Employers will need to revise their contracts of employment and relevant policies to ensure that they reflect this change. Harmers Workplace Lawyers is able to provide advice and assistance reviewing contracts of employment and addressing any issues that arise from this legislative change.