Australia: Family and Domestic Violence Leave Now Enshrined in all Modern Awards
From 1 August 2018 onwards, employees covered by an industry or occupation-based Modern Award will be entitled to five days of unpaid “family and domestic violence leave” (“FDV Leave”) per year.
Significantly, this FDV Leave entitlement applies to all employees covered by a Modern Award, including full-time, part-time and casual employees. (Modern Awards are quasi-legislative instruments made by Australia’s Federal industrial tribunal, the Fair Work Commission, which set out terms and conditions of employment for employees in particular industries. Not all workers are covered by a Modern Award—some employees will be covered by a registered agreement, some by an Award specific to their enterprise, and some will be award free.)
Five days of FDV Leave will be available to Award-covered employees at the commencement of their employment, with no requirement that leave be accrued progressively throughout the year.
However, FDV Leave will not accumulate year on year, unlike annual leave or personal leave.
“Family and domestic violence” is broadly defined as meaning violent, threatening, or other abusive behaviour by a member of the employee’s family that:
- seeks to coerce or control the employee; or
- causes the employee harm or fear.
The circumstances in which an employee may take family and domestic leave include, but are not limited to:
- an employee seeking emergency refuge or shelter;
- an employee attending a police station or court proceedings; and/or
- an employee ensuring that a family member is safe from family or domestic violence.
Employees who are not covered by a Modern Award, such as some senior employees and senior executives, will not be able to access FDV Leave.
However, the Commonwealth Government has signalled its commitment to enshrine FDV Leave into the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) as one of the minimum employment standards, extending this leave entitlement to all employees in the scope of the Federal legislation.