Australian workers covered by Awards will now be able to access five days of unpaid domestic violence leave each year. Further details of how this will be administered are likely to emerge after a May 2018 Fair Work Commission (FWC) Hearing.
The Fair Work Commission as part of it’s four yearly review of modern awards has stated, “family and domestic violence is a community issue and requires a community response."
Although the details of how this will take effect are yet to be finalised, organisations can ready themselves now for this change to leave entitlements for workers covered by Awards. There could also be a further extension of this entitlement to all national system employees if the Federal Government makes proposed amendments to the Fair Work Act.
The entitlement will be available to both permanent and casual employees and will not accumulate year to year but be available in full at the commencement of each 12-month period.
What evidence is required?
Employees applying for domestic violence leave can be asked to provide evidence. The FWC has not detailed yet exactly what evidence would be required however the Fair Work Act has a requirement for evidence that ‘’would satisfy a reasonable person’’ to be provided when employee is seeking paid personal leave so it may be similar for applying for unpaid domestic violence leave.
The ACTU has suggested that evidence may include, “ a document issues by the police service, a court, doctor, family violence support service, lawyer or a statutory declaration” and that any information be kept confidential except where disclosure is required by law to prevent a serious threat to the life, health and safety of any individual.
How else can organisations help domestic violence victims
Organisations can review and update existing policies and procedures to include the new entitlement and also give employees information on how the new entitlement interacts with their existing leave.
Workplaces are often the sanctuary for domestic violence victims and with good human resource management can also provide a way out for an employee who is victim to a domestic violence situation in their home life.
Organisations can also look into other ways they can support employees who are victims of domestic violence e.g. training to provide support and employee assistance programs.
YWCA runs a Healthy Relationships program to practically contribute to educating people about domestic violence and hopefully reduce its impact. Based on research, YWCA says organisations are likely to employ both potential and current domestic violence victims and perpetrators.
The Healthy Relationships program is run online through TAFE Queensland and provides an introduction to people thinking and talking about why and how to invest in good relationships that help people lead happy and productive lives and to provoke learners to think about their attitudes and be accountable for their own behaviour.
The outcome of the wellbeing program is:
- Improved health and wellbeing of employees
- Decreased personal leave due to injury
- Increased safety for all individuals on staff
- All employees knowing avenues for finding help and referring others to relevant support
- Improved accountability for behaviour through increased knowledge and tools to encourage ownership of thoughts and actions.
Contact Brisbane based HR Consultants, Harrison Human Resources to learn how our HR Consultants support the development of workplaces influencing social change through human resource management.