The impact of domestic and family violence (D&FV) to the economy is substantial amounting to around $10.4 billion annually with a further $7.1 billion spent to provide the support services for health, justice and social welfare.

Domestic and family violence impacts both men and women, with women disproportionately affected by this behaviour then men. With men reporting D&FV, 95% of them have reported the perpetrator to be another male.

In recognition of this public health and safety issue, the Fair Work Commission (FWC) have determined that unpaid family and domestic violence leave will now form part of the modern awards. The leave entitlement will be five working days’ unpaid leave to be applied as follows:

  • Available to all employees (Including casuals);
  • Available in full at the commencement of each 12-month period (from the start of employment) rather than accruing pro-rata during the year of service;
  • Will not accumulate from year to year; and
  • Will be available in full to part-time and casual employees i.e. not on a pro-rata basis.

An employee is entitled to take this leave when:

  • They are experiencing family and domestic violence; and
  • They need to do something to deal with the impact of the violence at a time that is not possible to do so outside of work hours. This may include making arrangements for their safety and that of their children (including relocation), attending court or accessing support services they require.

The model terms also include notice and evidence requirements that employees will need to provide before taking this leave. Certainly, notice as soon as practicable and an indication of how long they expect to be away is also required.

With respect to what evidence employers can request, the evidence requested must be reasonable and can include a letter/document issued by the police service, court or family welfare support group or a statutory declaration.

Employers will now have to ensure that current leave provisions and entitlements are adjusted to accommodate this change.

The decision to offer D&FV leave was initially made by the FWC in March this year and the model term (as above) announced on 6 July following submissions from employers and interest groups as to what this should look like.

The seriousness of D&FV cannot be underscored when you hear that police round Australia respond to one domestic violence call out every two minutes. The far-reaching consequences of not doing anything to stop the violence or provide the support needed by survivors to escape the violence can be dire and often times, fatal.

Domestic and family violence is no longer a private matter.

Further reading: A high price to pay: The economic case for preventing violence against women

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

Please contact Lauren Morrison at Lauren@lmhr.com.au or Mob: 0400 225 499 if you would like to learn more about how LM HR Consulting can assist your business with your HRM requirements.