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Paid Family and Domestic Violence Leave Changes – What You Should Know As A Small Business Owner

By Ershad Ullah February 20, 2023 | Tags:

10 Days of Paid Family and Domestic Violence Leave

As a small business owner, it’s important to stay up-to-date on any changes in employment laws and regulations to ensure a safe and compliant workplace for your employees.

The Fair Work Ombudsman in Australia has recently announced new paid family and domestic violence leave entitlements that will affect businesses across the country. Under the new regulations, employees in Australia who are impacted by family or domestic violence will be entitled to up to 10 days of unpaid leave within a 12-month period, an increase of 5 days from the original statute.  The new leave entitlement is already active for non-small business employees and will go into effect in August 2023, for employees of small business employers (businesses with less than 15 total employees).

It’s important for small business owners to understand their obligations under the new regulations. Employers cannot penalize or discriminate against employees who take this leave and must ensure that their employees are aware of their entitlements.

Family and Domestic Violence Leave

What is Family & Domestic Violence Leave?

The newly established regulations state that family and domestic violence encompasses abusive, violent, or threatening conduct committed by an employee’s close relative, a current or former intimate partner, or a member of their household that both:

  • seeks to coerce or control the employee
  • causes them harm or fear

A close relative is defined as:

  • an employee’s
  • spouse or former spouse
    • child
    • parent
    • grandparent
    • grandchild
    • sibling
  • a child, parent, grandparent, grandchild or sibling of an employee’s current or former spouse or de fact partner, or
  • a person related to the employee according to Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander kinship rules.

​​Family and domestic violence can present in many forms, and not all forms are visible. Violence can be physical, sexual, emotional, psychological, social, cultural, spiritual or financial. It can also be facilitated through technology. See the Fairwork guide for detailed examples to prepare and educate yourself in order to effectively support your employees.

How Family And Domestic Violence Affects Workplaces

Family and domestic violence is not just an individual issue, but a societal one. Its impact extends beyond the victim and affects entire families, communities, and the wider society in Australia. This type of violence can hinder a person’s ability to live a productive life, putting their health and well-being at risk.

Employees who experience family and domestic violence often face several challenges, such as increased financial stress, homelessness, isolation, vulnerability, and shame. Without proper support, workplaces can be negatively affected. However, by prioritizing knowledge, awareness, and planning, small business employers can fulfill their workplace obligations and support their employees effectively.

When a workplace prioritizes the health, safety, and well-being of its employees, there are numerous benefits. These may include:

  • increased employee productivity and satisfaction
  • improved workplace culture
  • positive impact on the broader community
  • improved outcomes for employees affected by family or domestic
  • reduced illness and absenteeism 
  • reduced staff turnover, resulting in lower recruitment and training costs 
  • reduced legal liabilities.

When employers don’t meet their workplace obligations there can be serious consequences. These can include:

  • fines and penalties 
  • risks to the health and safety of anyone in the workplace (including employees, customers, and contractors) 
  • reduced staff productivity 
  • reputational damage

Family and Domestic Violence Leave Eligibility & Renewal

Part-time and casual employees who are affected by family and domestic violence are eligible to take paid leave to manage the impact of such situations. This encompasses activities that the employee needs to do to address the consequences of family and domestic violence:

  • Make arrangements for their safety or the safety of a close relative (including relocation)
  • Attend court hearings
  • Access police services
  • Attend counseling
  • Attend appointments with medical, financial, or legal professionals

Furthermore, the paid leave entitlement, which is valid for 10 days, renews annually on each employee’s work anniversary, and it does not accumulate from year to year if unused.

Employees who commence work on or after the date when the paid leave entitlement becomes available at their new workplace, are entitled to access the entire 10 days of leave from their first day, and the leave is renewed annually on their work anniversary.

How Does Family and Domestic Violence Leave Pay Work?

Paid family and domestic violence leave is available to both full-time and part-time employees. During the leave period, they will receive their full pay rate for the hours they would have worked had they not been on leave.

For casual employees, payment will be based on the hours they were rostered to work during the leave period, at their full pay rate.

The full pay rate of an employee is comprised of their base rate, plus any additional amounts, such as incentive-based payments, bonuses, loadings, monetary allowances, overtime or penalty rates, and any other identifiable payments.

In addition, an employee can use paid family and domestic violence leave during a period of paid personal/career’s 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 needs to give their employer the required notice and evidence.

Family and Domestic Violence Leave Notice and Evidence Requirements

Employees who take paid family and domestic violence leave are required to inform their employer as soon as possible, even if this is after the leave has commenced. Employers are permitted to request evidence from the employee, indicating that they require time off work to address the issues surrounding family and domestic violence. This is only necessary when it is not practical for the employee to deal with the situation outside their working hours.

Employers are only allowed to use the information provided by the employee to determine their eligibility for paid leave, unless the employee consents to the information being used for other purposes, the employer is required by law to handle the information, or it is necessary to protect the life, health, or safety of the employee or another person. Adverse action cannot be taken by the employer based on this information.

The rules for providing notice and evidence for paid family and domestic violence leave are the same as the current rules for unpaid family and domestic violence leave.

  • Download the Fairwork Employer guide to family and domestic violence
  • Read The Hon Tony Burke MP’s media release at Paid leave for family and domestic violence starts now
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