By Lisa Anaf, Partner and Sarah Saliba, Lawyer
Since 1 August 2018, employees covered by modern awards have been entitled to unpaid family and domestic violence leave. Now all employees have access to this new leave entitlement as the Fair Work Amendment (Family and Domestic Violence Leave) Act 2018 (the Amendment Act) came into effect on 12 December 2018.
As a result of the Amendment Act, an entitlement to family and domestic violence leave has been included in the National Employment Standards (the NES) in the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (the FW Act).
Entitlement to family and domestic violence leave under the NES
The entitlement to family and domestic violence leave will now apply to all employees, including part-time and casual employees and will allow employees experiencing family and domestic violence to access up to 5 days of unpaid leave each year.
What is family and domestic violence?
The FW Act defines family and domestic violence as violent, threatening or other abusive behaviour by a close relative of an employee that:
- seeks to coerce or control the employee; and
- causes the employee harm or to be fearful.
A close relative of the employee is a person who:
- is a member of the employee’s immediate family; or
- is related to the employee according to Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander kinship rules.
What can family and domestic violence leave be used for?
In accordance with the FW Act, an employee may take unpaid family and domestic violence leave if:
- the employee is experiencing family and domestic violence; and
- the employee needs to do something to deal with the impact of the family and domestic violence; and
- it is impractical for the employee to do that thing outside the employee’s ordinary hours of work.
This may include arranging for the safety of the employee or a close relative, attending urgent court hearings or accessing police services.
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