The National Employment Standards have recently been updated to introduce a new leave entitlement for family and domestic violence. This remains separate to the existing entitlement of personal and carer’s leave (or ‘sick leave’ as it is often referred to).
All employees who are subject to the NES are now entitled to five days of unpaid leave each year for family and domestic violence purposes. For current purposes, the Fair Work Act defines family and domestic violence as violent, threatening or other abusive behaviour by an employee’s close relative that seeks to coerce or control the employee, or causes them harm or fear.
The purpose of the leave is to allow an employee to deal with the impacts of the family and domestic violence when it is impractical for them to do it outside of ordinary working hours. This could include attending court hearings, accessing police services, or making arrangements for their safety (such as relocating).
The leave is available in full immediately to every employee and does not accumulate year to year. It is available to full time, part time and casual employees. The leave can be taken in a single bloc or in smaller periods that total five days. Taking leave does not affect an employee’s period of service, but they do not accrue other entitlements (such as annual leave) while taking this leave.
Like personal and carer’s leave, employees are required to provide notice to their employer that they are taking this leave. Employees must also provide reasonable evidence to their employer to demonstrate that they are entitled to take this form of leave. Evidence could include documents from a police officer or court, or a statutory declaration. An employer is obliged to keep this evidence confidential.
For background, the NES is a minimum set of employee entitlements that cannot be contracted out of or reduced. Because the NES form part of the Fair Work Act, this advice will not apply to employees who fall under a state based industrial relations scheme (e.g. public sector employees).
This post is general information only. It is not a substitute for legal advice from a lawyer. If you have a legal issue, you should always contact your lawyer to obtain advice that is relevant to your circumstances.