New Model Domestic Violence Leave Clause in Awards

16 April 2018

The ACA welcomes the decision of the Fair Work Commission that a model domestic violence leave clause should be inserted into modern Awards.

The Fair Work Commission has ruled that all Australian employees covered by modern awards will be entitled to five days of unpaid leave per annum to all employees (including casuals) experiencing family and domestic violence.

The unpaid leave entitlement:

  • will apply to all employees (including casuals);
  • will be available in full at the commencement of each 12 month period rather than accruing progressively during a year of service;
  • will not accumulate from year to year; and
  • will be available in full to part-time and casual employees (i.e. not pro-rated)

The ACA fully supports the Commission’s decision. We note that many employer groups argued against introducing unpaid family and domestic violence leave into the modern award system. As the employer group representing architects, the ACA recognises that domestic violence is a difficult and serious issue. We believe that these leave provisions provide important support to employees at minimal cost to employers.

The Commission provides the following overview of the prevalence and impact of domestic and family violence.

One in four women in Australia have experienced family and domestic violence (almost 2.2 million women). Domestic and intimate partner homicides represent the highest proportion of any category of homicides in Australia. At least one woman a week is killed by a partner or former partner. Family and domestic violence is the leading contributor to death, disability and ill-health among Australian women aged between 15 and 44.

Such violence not only affects those who suffer it, but the children who are exposed to it, extended families, friends and work colleagues. It is an issue that impacts on workplaces and which requires specific action.

There is no single generally accepted definition of family and domestic violence, but at the core of family and domestic violence is the perpetrator’s need to maintain control and dominance over the victim.

The Commission found that:

  1. Family and domestic violence has a significant adverse impact on those who experience such violence.
  2. While men can, and do, experience family and domestic violence, such violence is a gendered phenomenon that disproportionately affects women.
  3. The effects of family and domestic violence are far reaching and extend beyond the individual directly affected; to their families and the general community.
  4. Family and domestic violence has a real and tangible impact on employees and employers in the workplace.
  5. Employees who experience family and domestic violence often face financial difficulties as a result, such as relocation costs or becoming a sole parent; and may suffer economic harm as a result of disruption to workplace participation.

The model term will be drafted in the next few weeks.

Read the summary of the decision here.