• Pamela Sweetapple

How domestic violence affects your job

Employees suffering domestic violence are now entitled to five days of unpaid leave each year to deal with the consequences.

From 1 August this year, all employees covered by a modern award can take up to five unpaid days away from their employment to deal with issues arising from domestic violence, like medical appointments or moving house.

If it is impracticable for an employee to deal with the consequences of domestic violence outside of their usual work hours, he or she is entitled to take this unpaid leave whenever necessary. Employees must notify their employers as soon as possible that they intend to take the leave.

Employees do not have to use up paid leave entitlements before being able to access the unpaid family and domestic violence leave. The five days of unpaid leave will be available in full at the commencement of each 12-month period of employment, but the leave does not accrue progressively after a year of service like other leave entitlements.

Are you eligible for unpaid family and domestic violence leave?

The new unpaid leave entitlement applies to all employees covered by industry awards.

The new entitlement is unique in that the full five 5 days of unpaid leave will be available to full time, part-time and casual employees. For example, if you are a casual employee covered by the Clerks Private Sector Award 2010 you will be entitled to the unpaid leave.

Employees whose employment is regulated by enterprise Awards, State reference public sector awards, enterprise agreements or other registered agreements, or whose employment is not covered by an award are not entitled to the unpaid domestic and family violence leave.

What must you do if you require unpaid family and domestic violence leave?

If an employee decides to take the unpaid domestic and family violence leave, the employee must inform their employer as soon as possible. This notification can even occur after the leave has begun. The employee must also inform their employer of the expected duration of the leave.

Employers can ask employees for evidence that must ‘convince a reasonable person’ that the employee took the leave to deal with family and domestic violence. For example, documents issued by police, documents issued by a court, family violence support service documents or a statutory declaration qualify as evidence. Employers can request employees provide evidence for as little as one day or less off work. Failure to provide evidence could mean that the employee may not obtain the unpaid leave.

Employers must take reasonably practicable steps to keep any information about an employee’s situation confidential.

If you believe you need to take unpaid domestic or family violence leave and are unsure about your rights or the process, contact us today.

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