Family and Domestic Violence Leave

The Government has taken a significant step forward by introducing the Fair Work Amendment (Paid Family and Domestic Violence Leave) Bill 2022 into Parliament. Family and domestic violence continues to cause a broad ripple effect across many lives, making its presence felt in the workplace, despite not necessarily occurring there.

The Bill was designed to bolster the current five-day, unpaid leave provision of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) to enable people affected by family and domestic violence to take more time to protect themselves and access assistance. After passing through Parliament on October 27, 2022, its components were legally implemented.

Though this is a commendable advance, Australian business owners may be left wondering what the alterations are and how this impacts their business.

In this article, we explain the specifics of the changes.

What changes are being made following the passing of the Bill?

1. Any period of absence under family and domestic violence leave is now paid.

Employees entitled to family and domestic violence leave are to be paid at their full rate of pay, including any loadings, penalties, allowances, overtime bonuses, and incentive-based payments they would have been entitled to during their period of absence, to ensure they do not suffer a loss as a result of taking the leave.

2. Leave entitlement has expanded from five days to 10 days each year.

At the outset of employment, workers are now granted 10 days of paid family and domestic violence leave per annum instead of the previously held five days of unpaid leave. This entitlement is reset annually , not rolling over like annual or personal and carer leave, when the employee reaches their anniversary with the business.

3. The eligibility criteria for family and domestic violence leave have broadened

To access family and domestic violence leave, an employee must confirm they are enduring such violence. According to Section 106B(2) of the Act, ‘family and domestic violence’ is classified as oppressive, threatening, or any other type of abusive behaviour from a “close relative” with the aim of intimidating, dominating, causing distress, or sparking fear in the employee.

Therefore, it raises the issue of who qualifies as a “close relative”. In accordance with section 106B(3) and section 12 of the Act, a “close relative” is someone who is:

The Act was revised to further define “close relative” to include:

By enlarging this definition, 2.2 million Australians who have experienced violence from a former or current intimate partner and who do not meet the criteria of a spouse or de facto partner can now avail of the 10-day leave entitlement in order to seek assistance and respite.

4. Use of family and domestic violence leave

Section 106B(1) of the Act has provided employees with the legal entitlement to take time off from work if they must “deal with” family and domestic violence. These instances had previously been defined as making safety arrangements, attending court hearings, and contacting police services.

The proposed Bill would update these listed activities to include attending counselling sessions, medical appointments, financial consultations, and meetings with legal practitioners.

This modification is a key step to improve clarity surrounding the use of this particular leave entitlement. With these new definitions in place, it allows employees to access the leave in more instances than before, such as when they must seek counselling or therapy for any mental health issues associated with family and domestic violence, without being incorrectly categorised as being on personal or carer’s leave.

When do these changes commence for large and small business?

To ensure that businesses have sufficient time to make adjustments to their payroll system, policies and procedures, these changes will not commence until 1 February 2023 for large businesses and 1 August 2023 for small businesses. A large business is anyone that employs greater then 15 employees and a small business is one that employs less then 15 employees.

What will these changes mean for my business?

You’ll need to create a supportive work environment

Employers should promote an atmosphere in their workplace where employees feel supported, secure, and comfortable enough to voice their struggles with family and domestic violence. This will allow for workers to feel encouraged to come forward and request assistance when needed.

Stay up to date on employee entitlements – and make sure your employees do too!

Employers must be responsible for tracking and maintaining an employee’s leave balance. This involves informing them on when and how this balance will be modified. It is important to remember that all employees are entitled to ten days of paid family and domestic violence leave per year, from the date of their anniversary with the company.

You’ll need processes to maintain confidentiality

Employers must take the initiative to manage and keep confidential any data related to family and domestic violence. Unless there are legally mandated disclosures. We suggest that your staff are made aware of this confidentiality, as it will encourage them to seek the necessary assistance.

How Now Actually can help?

You don’t have to spend weeks studying the legislation. Now Actually has your back.

We believe HR should be simple. Simple enough for you to run your business confidently. Partnering with Now Actually is everything you need to manage the entire employee lifecycle, from recruitment and onboarding to managing your people and termination. Contact us today.




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