On 27th October 2022, the Government’s Fair Work Amendment (Paid Family and Domestic Violence Leave) Act 2022 passed through Parliament. This legislation introduces key changes to the existing provisions including:
- ten days of paid family and domestic violence leave in the National Employment Standards (NES), replacing the existing entitlement in the NES to five days of unpaid family and domestic violence leave; and
- extending 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.
The new legislation will apply from 1 February 2023, with small businesses (as defined by Fair Work) having an extra 6 months to adjust to the changes, meaning it will come into effect for them from 1 August 2023.
It will apply to full-time, part-time and casual workers. The application of paid leave for casuals introduces a particular degree of complexity.
This issue is not one to be taken lightly. One in four women have experienced violence by an intimate partner. And on average, one woman is killed by an intimate partner every 10 days. And it is not an issue faced by women alone. This legislation increases the responsibility placed on businesses to contribute to a societal problem. We cannot remain blind to these issues and anything that can be done to reduce the incidence of domestic violence and support the victims of these unacceptable crimes should be considered. What will require careful navigation now is this legislation which effectively puts an obligation on employers to become involved in highly personal and sensitive matters. This is not without significant practical challenges (for both the employer and the employee).
It remains unclear what evidence is sufficient, when requesting this leave, to establish that an employee is experiencing family and domestic violence, and how this interacts with the privacy of such employees.
The team at Focus HR will keep our clients up to date with further information on the implementation of this new leave entitlement as we work through the practicalities.