Recent changes to the National Employment Standards (NES) now mean employees can access up to 10 days of paid family and domestic violence leave every year – double that available under the previous scheme.
Under the changes, paid family and domestic violence leave also extends to an employee’s close relatives, including supporting a de facto partner or former de facto partner, a child, a parent, a grandchild, a grandparent or a brother or sister.
The new laws determined by the NES - which governs the minimum standards of employment covering things such as the maximum weekly hours, annual leave and requests for flexible working arrangements – took effect on 1 February 2023 for businesses with more than 15 employees.
Organisations with less than 15 employees have a little longer - until 1 August 2023 - to respond to the changes.
The Fairwork Ombudsman says for the purposes of the Fair Work Act, family and domestic violence encompasses violent acts, threatening or other abusive behaviour that seeks to coerce or control the employee and causes them harm or fear.
This can include physical, sexual, emotional, psychological, social, cultural, spiritual or financial violence, as well as that facilitated through technology.
What Does This Mean?
Under the NES, full-time or part-time employees with a paid entitlement who are eligible to receive the payment will have it paid at the employee’s full rate of pay for the hours they would have worked had they not taken leave.
Eligible casual employees with a paid entitlement are paid at their full rate of pay for the hours they were rostered to work in the period they took leave.
The employee’s full pay rate is calculated at their base rate plus any loadings, allowances, overtime and penalty rates, bonuses, incentive payments or other separately identifiable amounts.
Under the new laws, survivors and their support network can use their special leave to attend court hearings or counselling, access police services, attend appointments with medical, financial or legal professionals or find short-term accommodation.
While it is not a requirement to provide evidence before accessing this leave, employers have the right to ask the employee for it.
Because it is necessary to protect the life, health or safety of the employee or another person, it is against the law for an employer to share the information provided to them, unless the employee consents; the employer is required to deal with the information by law such as a legal request by police officers or payslip information requested by the Fair Work Ombudsman.
Employers are also prevented from recording ‘domestic and family violence leave’ on an employee’s payslip, to protect employees in case a perpetrator was to get access to their payslips.
For people impacted by domestic and family violence, confidential information, counselling and support is available at the 1800 RESPECT website.