From today, 1 February 2023, employees will be entitled to 10 days of paid family and domestic violence if they work for a business with more than 15 employees.
Employees working for smaller businesses with less than 15 employees can access the leave from 1 August 2023. The leave is at the full pay rate for the hours that would otherwise have been worked.
According to Fair Work, employees can access this leave “if they need to do something to deal with the impact of family and domestic violence.”
“This could include, for example, the employee: making arrangements for their safety, or the safety of a close relative (including relocation); attending court hearings; accessing police services; attending counselling; attending appointments with medical, financial or legal professionals.”
Employsure, a workplace advisory firm for Australian small and medium enterprises, has released a summary breaking down the key issues that employers must be across.
“All employees in the Fair Work system including part-time and casual employees will be entitled to 10 days of paid family and domestic violence leave in a 12-month period,” the report reads.
It should also be noted that this leave does not accrue like standard paid or personal leave. Employees are able to access this leave from their first day at the company, and it will renew after every 12-month work anniversary.
The entitlement will replace the existing provision of five days of unpaid family and domestic violence leave under the National Employment Standards. Once the 10 days have been used, workers are able to access an additional five days of unpaid family and domestic violence leave, until the paid leave renews.
Employees can also use this leave if they are already off, as the Employsure report explains.
“An employee can use paid family and domestic violence leave during a period of personal/carers or annual leave. If this happens, the employee is no longer on the other form of paid leave and is taking paid family and domestic violence leave instead.
“The employee is still required to give their employer the required notice and evidence to take this leave however this can be after the leave has started. An employer may ask their employee for evidence to show that the employee needs to do something to deal with FDV and it is not practical to do so outside their hours of work.”
Employers should only use this information to ensure the employee is entitled to the leave, unless: the employee consents otherwise, the employer is required to deal with the information by law, or its necessary to protect the life, health or safety of the employee (or another person).
Employers must take extreme care to treat any information about the employee’s situation as strictly confidential, both when they receive it as an application for leave, and in documents such as payslips. The Fair Work website provides greater detail here.
“From 1 February 2023, there are rules about information that must not be included on an employee’s pay slip relating to paid family and domestic violence leave. This is to reduce the risk to an employee’s safety when accessing paid family and domestic violence leave.
“Employers need to keep a record of leave balances and any leave taken by employees. However, pay slips must not mention family and domestic violence leave, including any leave taken and leave balances,” Fair Work states.
As Employsure notes, “if information isn’t handled properly, it could have dire consequences for their employees.”
More information can be found at the Fair Work website.
If staff are dealing with family and domestic violence; confidential information, support and counselling is available at the 1800 RESPECT website, or via the hotline on 1800 737 732