The Australian government has just announced the passing of the Fair Work Amendment (Paid Family and Domestic Violence Leave) Bill 2022, which amends the Fair Work Act 2009 (the Act) to provide for ten days of paid family and domestic violence leave in the National Employment Standards (NES).
The new Bill has the effect of replacing the existing entitlement in the NES to five days of unpaid family and domestic violence (FDV) leave.
As passed, the bill extends the entitlement to:
- provide ten days of paid family and domestic violence leave in a 12-month period for full-time, part-time and casual employees;
- provide for employees to access paid family and domestic violence leave at their full rate of pay for the hours they would have worked had they not taken the leave, to minimise the financial impact of family and domestic violence;
- extend the definition of family and domestic violence to include conduct of a current or former intimate partner of an employee, or a member of an employee’s household; and
- extend the full paid entitlement to all employees when the International Labour Organisation Convention (No. 190) concerning Violence and Harassment comes into force for Australia.
The passing of this bill brings Australia in line with other countries such as the Philippines, New Zealand and Canada who have all legislated a 10 day leave arrangement for Family and Domestic Violence victims.
Importantly, the new laws come into effect on 1 February 2023 with respect to national system employees who are employed under the Fair Work Act. The entitlements are then expanded to include small and medium enterprise employees covered by the national system on 1 August 2023.
Purpose of the entitlements
The leave entitlements may be accessed by employees to assist them (or a close relative of the employee to:
- Make arrangements for safety, including obtaining emergency alternate accommodation;
- Attend Court hearings relating to or arising from the Family or Domestic Violence;
- Accessing Police services and support;
- Attending counselling or medical appointments arising from the Family or Domestic Violence; and
- To attend appointments with medical, financial or legal professionals connected with the Family or Domestic Violence.
While the amendments do pertain predominately to national system employees covered by the Fair Work Act, the Fair Work Commission (FWC) may, on application, decide to extend the provisions to individuals covered by Enterprise Agreements if it is satisfied that the terms of the enterprise agreement pertaining to FDV leave are detrimental to an employee in any respect when compared with the entitlements provided for in the bill.
In those cases, the FWC may:
- Make a determination varying the agreement to make it consistent with the new entitlements; or
- If it is not detrimental, to make a declaration to that effect.
At Mossensons, we welcome these amendments as a sensible and long overdue step which brings Australia closer in line with international practices, and which will undoubtedly make it easier for victims to take the appropriate steps required to ensure their safety, or the safety of their close relatives, and to obtain the required support they need without fear of losing employment or income.
You may read more on the Parliament of Australia Website, here.