Unpaid family and domestic violence leave will soon become a compulsory entitlement for all employees covered by modern awards.
A Full Bench of the Fair Work Commission (Commission) has determined that a model term providing for unpaid family and domestic violence leave will be inserted in modern awards. As such, unpaid family and domestic violence leave will soon become a compulsory entitlement for all employees covered by modern awards.
What you need to know
- All award covered employees (including casual employees) will soon be entitled to 5 days unpaid family and domestic violence leave per annum.
- Employers should start planning for the insertion of compulsory unpaid family and domestic violence leave in modern awards.
The model term
The model term, in its current form:
- provides an entitlement to 5 days unpaid family and domestic violence leave per annum;
- applies to all employees (including casuals);
- is available in full at the commencement of each 12 month period (rather than accruing progressively during a year of service);
- does not accumulate from year to year;
- is available in full to part-time and casual employees (i.e. it is not pro-rated in contrast to personal and annual leave which is pro-rated for part-time employees);
- can be taken if, among other things, the employee needs to attend urgent court hearings or access police services and it is impracticable for the employee to do so outside their ordinary hours of work; and
- requires employers to take steps to ensure information provided by the employee relating to the leave is treated confidentiality, as far as it is reasonably practicable to do so.
In addition to the above, the Full Bench has not made it a requirement that employees access any available paid leave entitlement before accessing unpaid family and domestic violence leave.
The Commission is currently considering submissions from interested parties regarding the draft model term and will shortly make a final ruling on whether the draft unpaid family and domestic violence leave model clause will be incorporated into modern awards in the current form.
What should employers do?
In preparation for the insertion of the model term in modern awards, employers should start considering how they will manage unpaid family and domestic violence leave in their workplace. Once the Commission makes a ruling on the final form of the model term, employers should consider creating a family and domestic violence leave policy which clearly outlines how the leave will be managed.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances. Madgwicks is a member of Meritas, one of the world's largest law firm alliances.