Each week at least one woman is murdered, and there are at least two reported victims, as a result of family and domestic violence (FDV) related offences in Australia. On top of that, a recent report shows intimate partner violence causes more illness, disability and death than any other risk factor for women aged 25-44.

This week brought the commencement of FDV leave, which was introduced by the Fair Work Commission in acknowledgement of the devastating impact of FDV on Australian employees. The new entitlement gives employees who are covered by a modern award 5 days of unpaid leave to deal with family and domestic violence.

Why only modern award covered employees? Because that's the extent of the FWC's influence in relation to introducing new leave entitlements. So, good on the FWC for doing what it can. For non-award employees, fortunately, the Turnbull Government indicated it will introduce legislation to extend the entitlement to everyone. But get to it already. It's shouldn't be that hard (or controversial).

We also hope there's a shift from the leave being unpaid to paid. If impacted by FDV, should an employee also need to deal with loss of income? Get real.

Like other leave entitlements, employers can require employees who access FDV leave to back it up with evidence. Evidence can include documents issued by the police, a court, or a family violence support service. That said, we truly hope that there isn't an employee out there with the gall to exploit this leave entitlement. In return, we'd expect most employers to treat the matter with the utmost sensitivity.

For non-award employers, FDV leave is not mandatory. But it has to be worth talking about, at the very least. The numbers speak for themselves.

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