The ACTU's proposed domestic violence provisions in all
Modern Awards, could have significant implications for
The Fair Work Commission is presently in the midst of a four
yearly Modern Award review process. As part of the review process,
interested parties have been invited to make submissions by 20
April 2015, as to ways in which Modern Awards, or a specific Modern
Award, could be varied.
An interesting submission by The Australian Council of Trade
Unions (ACTU) seeks to include a clause in all
Modern Awards which would impose a requirement for employers to
provide up to 10 days' paid "Domestic Violence Leave"
per annum and, once that 10 days is utilised, a further two days
unpaid Domestic Violence leave. This proposed Domestic Violence
Leave would be in addition to the existing leave entitlements set
out in the National Employment Standards
The ACTU submission explains that the purpose of the proposed
Domestic Violence Leave would be to enable affected employees to
attend legal proceedings, counselling, appointments with a medical
or legal practitioner, relocation, the making of safety
arrangements and other activities associated with the experience of
The clause also seeks to impose requirements upon employers
appoint a domestic violence workplace contact person (Contact
Person) for the workplace and to train that person in domestic
provide relevantly affected employees with access to an
Employee Assistance Program;
determine whether an employee experiencing domestic violence
(and/or any other employees or visitors of the employee) may be at
risk of physical harm and if so, to take reasonable measures to
ensure their safety;
approve reasonable requests from affected employees for a
change of hours or shift patterns, a change in duties, a change in
work locations and a change to phone numbers or email
take all reasonable measures to ensure personal information
concerning an employee's experience of domestic violence is
kept confidential; and
approve the use of the NES entitlement to personal/carer's
leave for any employee who provides care or support to a person who
is experiencing domestic violence, including but not limited to,
accompanying these persons to legal proceedings, counselling,
making of safety arrangements, minding children and other
activities associated with the experience of family and domestic
If the ACTU's submission was to result in the changes to
Modern Awards which it proposes, employers would have significant
requirements imposed upon them - and these would undoubtedly
translate into (not insignificant) costs. Further, the requirements
would almost inevitably expose employers (and probably Contact
Persons) to greater risks and liabilities under Occupational Health
and Safety (OHS) laws.
The domestic violence provisions proposed by the ACTU may well
become hotly controversial as the Modern Award review process
transpires - not only because of the onerous obligations and
liabilities which the proposed variations would seemingly impose
upon employers, but also because of the fact that domestic violence
is considered by many to be a community and societal issue, rather
than a workplace issue.
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
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Long experience representing many of Australia's leading employers has taught us that in employment litigation the identity of an employee's representative is a major factor in how employee litigation runs.
Australian employees receive certain entitlements (such as annual leave and superannuation) where contractors do not.
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