Commencing 1 August 2018, after a milestone decision made by the Fair Work Commission, Australians are now entitled to 5 days of unpaid Domestic and Family Violence (DFV) related leave each year.
DFV leave will allow employees to deal with the repercussions of DFV in circumstances where it is impractical to do so outside of ordinary work hours. Examples of such things include making arrangements for their safety, or the safety of a family member (such as relocation), attending Court hearings, or accessing police services.
What is Domestic and Family Violence?
Domestic and family violence is defined as “violent, threatening or other abusive behaviour” by a family member that seeks to coerce or control a person, cause them harm, or cause them fear. For more information, visit the following link to the Fair Work Australia website:
Who is entitled to DFV leave?
Most employees covered by an industry or occupation based award are entitled to DFV leave, including part-time and casual employees, with only a few exceptions. For more information about whether you are entitled to DFV leave, visit the following link to the Fair Work Australia website:
If an employee is not entitled to DFV leave, they may be covered by other paid or unpaid entitlements in their particular award that can be accessed in circumstances where there are circumstances of DFV.
Alternatively, the employer may have their own workplace policies in place to cater for such circumstances.
Employees’ rights and obligations when taking DFV Leave?
The employee must:
- Give the employer notice of the taking of leave, and the period (or expected period) of the leave, “as soon as practicable”. This may be after the leave has already started.
- If required by the employer, the employee must provide them with evidence that the leave is being taken for the intended purpose, being dealing with DFV. Examples of such evidence include documents issued by the police service, a Court, of a DFV support office, or a statutory declaration.
The employer must:
- Ensure that any information concerning any notice given, or evidence provided, is treated confidentially as far as it is reasonably practicable to do so.
Whist this decision is indicative of the continued effort to address the ongoing prevalence of DFV as one of the leading causes of homicide in Australia, there is still plenty of scope for further advocacy to be undertaken around the issue.
As an example, a bill has recently been passed in New Zealand providing for 10 days of paid DFV leave per year. An emphasis was placed on ensuring that the leave was paid on the basis that the degree financial independence is often the main factor that determines whether a person who suffers from DFV is in a position to leave an abusive relationship. People will now have the comfort of knowing that they can have time of work to gain independence, leave an abusive relationship, and consequently break the DFV cycle, all whilst maintaining job security.
Another benefit of these leave entitlements from the employer’s perspective is higher workplace productivity. Sufferers of DFV are known to underperform at work due to reduced morale, and have higher rates of absenteeism. This is often due to their partners attempting to exercise control over them by breaking their attachment to work and subsequently increasing their dependence on their partner.
These new leave entitlements will hopefully see a shift in the general attitude towards DFV as a taboo subject in corporate settings, whilst addressing it in a private and respectful manner.
Whilst there is still a long way to go in the battle against DFV, this is certainly a step in the right direction coupled with the acknowledgment that reducing DFV requires a collaboration of a variety of sectors including legal, medical, public health, education, and social services.
Find out how McLaughlins Lawyers can help you today 07 5591 5099.
Author: Shona Sahay
Director: Sophie Pearson
Date: 27th August 2018