Accessing the new paid family and domestic violence leave
From 1 February 2023, workers of companies with more than 15 employees can access ten days of paid family and domestic violence leave within a 12 month period. The full ten days is offered to all employees, regardless of whether you work full-time, part-time or casual, and will replace the previous entitlement to five days unpaid leave.
Under the new provisions, family and domestic violence means violent, threatening, or other abusive behaviour by an employee’s close relative, a current or former intimate partner, or a member of their household that both seeks to coerce or control the employee and causes them harm or fear.
The same will come into effect for workers of small businesses (less than 15 employees) from 1 August 2023. Employees who cannot yet access the new paid entitlement will still be able to take five days of unpaid family and domestic violence leave.
How does the leave accumulate and renew?
Employees will be entitled to the ten days upfront rather than accruing it, and the leave does not accumulate from year to year if unused. Each year on the employee’s work anniversary, the leave entitlement renews.
Some workplaces may already have an entitlement to paid family and domestic violence leave in workplace policies, contracts, or registered agreements. The new entitlement under the National Employment Standards (NES) will apply if the existing entitlement is less than ten days.
How do I take family and domestic violence leave?
When impacted by family and domestic violence, employees can access paid leave to make safety arrangements for themselves or a close relative, attend court, access police services, or attend counselling, medical, financial or legal appointments.
To access the leave, an employee must let their employer know as soon as possible. This could be after the leave period has already started, for example, if you are already on paid personal leave. In those circumstances, the other form of paid leave will stop, and the family and domestic violence leave will start.
Employers can ask for evidence for as little as one day off, addressing what the employee needs to do to deal with family and domestic violence and that it is not practical to do that outside their ordinary hours. A statutory declaration or documents issued by the police, a court or family violence support services are all types of evidence.
Evidence provided to an employer to support a leave request cannot be used to take adverse action against the employee.
Payment for family and domestic violence leave.
How an employee gets paid for this leave will differ depending on their ordinary hours of work.
For full or part-time employees, the leave is at full pay for the hours they would have worked if they were not on paid leave. If the hours the employee would have worked include penalty rates, loadings, incentives, or allowances, they must also be paid.
Casual employees will be paid for the hours they were rostered during the period of leave, including any loadings, allowances or other amounts they would have received if they worked their rostered hours.
To reduce risks to employee safety, there are rules around what information can now be included on payslips. Family and domestic violence leave balances should not be mentioned, with employers required to keep a record instead.
Written by Trent Hancock
Disclaimer: This article should not be construed as legal advice and is not intended as such. If readers wish to obtain advice about anything contained in this article, they should speak with a lawyer and discuss their individual circumstances.