New Family and Domestic Violence Leave

31 July 2018

Fair Work has announced new leave entitlements, applicable from 1 August.

The Fair Work Commission has announced that all modern industry awards (including the Architects Award) will be varied to give employees access to 5 days of unpaid leave per year to deal with family and domestic violence. The new clause will be applicable from the first full pay period on or after 1 August 2018.

The Fair Work Commission defines family and domestic violence as “violent, threatening or other abusive behaviour by an employee’s family member that seeks to coerce or control the employee, or causes them harm or fear”. 

The leave can be taken by employees if they need to deal with the impact of family and domestic violence and it's not possible to do so outside their ordinary hours of work.

For example, this could include:

  • making arrangements for their safety, or safety of a family member (including relocation)
  • attending court hearings, or
  • accessing police services.

The leave doesn’t need to be taken all at once and can be taken as single or multiple days. An employer and employee can also agree for an employee to take less than 1 day at a time, or for the employee to take more than 5 days.

Unpaid family and domestic violence leave doesn’t break an employee’s period of continuous service but doesn’t count as service when calculating accumulated entitlements such as paid leave.

The entitlement applies to all employees (including casuals) who are covered by an industry or occupation based award. 

For more information about domestic and family violence leave and who it applies to, see the Fair Work Commission website.

Employers may ask their employee for evidence that they require the leave to deal with the impact of family or domestic violence. If the employee does not provide evidence, they may not receive the requested leave. For more on evidence requirements, see the Fair Work Commission website.

Employers should be mindful that information relating to an employee's situation regarding family and domestic violence may be extremely sensitive, and should be kept confidential. This includes information about the leave request and any evidence they may provide. Employers may disclose information if it's required by law, or it's necessary to protect the life, health or safety of the employee or another person.

For more on workplace privacy, obligations about providing information to third parties, and privacy in relation to email and the internet, read the Fair Work Workplace privacy best practice guide.