The statistics are frightening. In Australia, police receive a call every two minutes on average relating to family and domestic violence, and one woman dies every 10 days at the hands of their current or former partner.
Domestic violence can have devastating short and long-term effects for those who are subject to it – whether that’s emotional, financial, or physical.
Up until now, people who were experiencing domestic violence had no choice but to either continue going to work or take time off – whether that’s paid through sick leave or unpaid – to manage the consequences of whatever had taken place.
Now, under landmark, Federal Government legislation, full-time, part-time and casual employees will have access to 10 days of paid family and domestic violence every 12 months.
According to the Federal Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, this change to the Fair Work Amendment (Paid Family and Domestic Violence Leave) Bill 2022 will give workers – overwhelmingly women – the means to escape violent situations without risking their jobs or their financial security.
The leave will be available from:
- 1 February 2023 for employers with more than 15 employees on 1 February 2023.
- 1 August 2023 for employers with less than 15 employees on 1 February 2023.
Until then, employees will continue to be entitled to 5 days of unpaid family and domestic violence leave.
What can this leave be used for?
The leave is intended to allow you to do things resulting from family and domestic violence leave which can’t take place outside work. These include:
- Making arrangements for your safety, or the safety of a close relative (including relocation)
- Going to court hearings
- Accessing police services or counselling services
- Attending appointments with medical, financial, or legal professionals.
Other key information
Once it’s implemented, the days will become available upfront – you won’t have to wait to accrue them over the year.
The 10 days will be an annual allocation and will reset on your work anniversary. The number of days won’t accumulate if they are unused during the year.
How will it work?
If you’re experiencing an episode of domestic violence, let your manager or HR team know as soon as possible, even if that’s after you’ve started the time off.
They might ask you for evidence to show you need to deal with family and domestic violence and that it’s not practical to do that outside of work hours. This evidence can only be used to satisfy the employer of the entitlement to the leave. There are some exceptions to this, including if it’s necessary to protect someone’s life, health, or safety. This information cannot be used by the employer for other purposes, such as using it against you.
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:
What does domestic violence look like?
It means a close relative, current or former partner, or someone in your household is demonstrating violent, threatening, or other abusive behaviour. Domestic violence can mean anything from trying to control you or force you to do things you don’t want to do, and that behaviour causes you to be afraid or to be harmed.
A close relative is classified as your current or former spouse/de facto partner, a child, parent, grandparent, grandchild, sibling – or the equivalent of your current or former spouse/de factor partner. It can also be a person related to you according to Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander kinship rules.
Need to know more?
If you’re in this situation, the first thing to do is ensure you’re safe. For legal advice and guidance, call CM Law, and one of our specialist solicitors will help you.
If you’re an employer and are unsure how this change in legislation will impact you and what your obligations are, give us a call.
Thank you for reading this article; please note that this content is accurate at the time of posting but is not updated regularly. The content throughout this site should be viewed as informational and informative but not considered legal advice. We cannot guarantee that any of the information on the website is current and laws are regularly changing. For more accurate information or to obtain proper legal advice, please contact our office today.