New NES entitlement: Unpaid Domestic and Family Violence Leave

6 December 2018
Brett Feltham, Partner, Sydney

In its final flurry of legislative activity for 2018, the Federal parliament has today passed an amendment to the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) that will enshrine the right for employees to take up to five days unpaid leave to deal with family and domestic violence.

This amendment follows a decision in March this year by the Fair Work Commission to include an entitlement to unpaid domestic and family violence leave in all modern awards. The amending legislation, the Fair Work Amendment (Family and Domestic Violence Leave) Bill 2018 (Bill), will insert a new minimum entitlement to five days unpaid family and domestic violence leave per year in the National Employment Standards, and will mean that that entitlement is then be available to all national system employees, including casuals.

While the finalised version of the Bill has yet to be published, it appears to largely reflect the Fair Work Commission’s modern award model clause (see our summary of those entitlements here), with some additional requirements. These additional requirements include that employers must take steps to ensure that information provided by an employee as notice or evidence in taking that leave is treated confidentially.

The Federal Government expects that the passage of the Bill will mean that an additional 6 million Australian employees will now have access to unpaid domestic and family violence leave.

The entitlement will be available to employees as soon as the Bill receives Royal Assent, which is expected to be before Christmas.

Gadens can assist businesses with a review of their policies and procedures to ensure they reflect the new entitlement and best place employers to assist employees experiencing family and domestic violence.

Authored by:

Brett Feltham, Partner

Emma Corcoran, Lawyer

This update does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. It is intended only to provide a summary and general overview on matters of interest and it is not intended to be comprehensive. You should seek legal or other professional advice before acting or relying on any of the content.

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