Australia implements new paid family and domestic violence leave

Employees in Australia will soon have access to paid family and domestic violence leave. Business owners and employers should be aware of these changes as the paid family and domestic violence leave means you will have to pay up to 10 days of leave per 12-month period for employees who require the leave.

Starting in 2023, employees will have access to 10 days of paid family and domestic violence leave in each 12-month period. The leave is available to full-time, part-time, and casual employees and can be used in full at the start of each 12 month period. It does not accumulate from year-to-year if it isn’t used.

The previous approved leave gave workers 5 days of unpaid leave under the National Employment Standards. Until the paid leave comes into effect, employees can still access their five days of unpaid leave.

The paid leave starts as follows:

1 February 2023 for employees of non-small business employers (employers with 15 employees or more)
1 August 2023 for employees of small business employers (employers with fewer than 15 employees)

The leave renews every year on the employee’s work anniversary.

Under the family and domestic violence leave, your employees can take leave from work to deal with the impact of family and domestic violence if they are not able to do so during their work hours. For example, employees could take days for

– attending court hearings
– accessing police services
– attending counselling or medical appointments
– making arrangements for their own safety or the safety of a close relative.

Employees can break up the leave as needed throughout the 12 months.

Included in the meaning of family and domestic violence

Under the Fair Work Act, family and domestic violence is defined as violent, threatening or otherwise abusive behaviour that is aimed at controlling the victim and causes them harm or fear. The violence can be caused by a close relative, a current or former intimate partner, or a member of the household.

Included in family and domestic violence are actions such as:

– Physical assault or abuse
– Sexual assault or sexually abusive behaviour
– Emotional abuse
– Verbal abuse
– Economic abuse
– Threats of violence
– Forced isolation
– Stalking
– Harassment

Leave is now to be paid

Whereas before employees were entitled only to five days of unpaid leave, they are now entitled to 10 days of paid leave.

For full-time and part-time employees, that leave would be at their full pay rate for the hours they would have worked during that period if they were not taking the leave. Casual employees are to be paid at their full pay rate for the hours they were planned to work during the time they took their leave.

That full pay rate includes their base wages or salary plus any bonuses, loadings, overtime, and monetary allowances.

If the employee is on another type of leave and requires family and domestic violence leave, they can have their leave switched.

There are financial implications for business owners to be aware of, in that you will be required to pay for up to 10 days of family and domestic violence leave for employees, per 12-month period.

Required notification

Employees must let their employer know as soon as possible that they require family and domestic violence leave, although this notification can occur after the leave has started. As an employer, you can legally request evidence that the leave is related to family and domestic violence, but can only use any evidence gained to satisfy notification requirements.

You cannot use that evidence for any other purpose unless

you have the employee’s consent
you are required by law
that evidence is needed to protect the health or safety of another person.

Any information provided as evidence cannot be used to take action against the employee.

Support services

Anyone who is impacted by family and domestic violence can access confidential information, counselling, and additional support and services at the 1800 RESPECT website.

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