The Fair Work Commission has amended modern awards to include a provision for domestic violence leave, which takes effect from the first full pay cycle after 1 August 2018.
Under the change, all workers – including casuals – will now be able to claim up to five days unpaid family and domestic violence leave.
SMEs are going to be most affected, given both their reliance on industry awards to determine pay rates, as well as the fact that enterprise awards and state reference public sector awards are exempt from the new provisions.
Other registered agreements are also exempt from including domestic violence leave.
“Some businesses may provide paid or unpaid family and domestic violence leave entitlements in their employment contracts or workplace policies. The amount of leave and pay entitlements will depend on the contract or policy,” the commission said on its website.
“If an employment contract or workplace policy provides less than the minimum entitlement in the applicable award, the award entitlement still applies.”
More information can be found on the commission’s website.
While media headlines have concentrated on the number of women murdered by their partners, domestic violence has a range of flow-on effects to the community, including in the workplace.
Yet women are not the only victims of violence in the home, with the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare noting earlier this year that, on average, one man is murdered every month by a current or former partner.
“This is the first time the Fair Work Commission and the Fair Work Ombudsman are making it a requirement for business owners to have a policy for dealing with domestic violence and supporting victims,” said Nicholas Hackenberg, senior employment advisor at Employsure.
“Employers should always take the necessary steps to ensure staff feel comfortable talking to them about sensitive topics such as domestic violence. They need to reassure their staff that all conversations will be handled appropriately and will be confidential.”
Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016.