On 1 August 2018 changes came into effect that impact upon many Australian businesses and their employees. Caitlin Meers, Associate with Snedden Hall & Gallop Lawyers, discusses what these changes are and how they may impact your obligations as an employer.

Fair Work Commission changes

For the first full pay cycle on or after 1 August, employees may be able to apply for unpaid family and domestic violence leave. This is in addition to existing leave entitlements including sick, parental and annual leave. The aim of this leave is to help victims of family and domestic violence to address those issues they can’t deal with outside their ordinary work hours.
Employees covered by an industry or occupation award, including those who are casual employees, will be able to access 5 unpaid days off per calendar year if they are suffering from family or domestic violence, which includes ‘… violent, threatening or other abusive behaviour by an employee’s family member that seeks to coerce or control the employee or causes them harm or fear.’
Employees don’t need to have a Domestic Violence order in place, or have taken any other formal action regarding the family violence, to access the unpaid 5 days of leave. Employers may ask employees to substantiate their request by providing a statutory declaration, a police report or relevant court documents.
The Domestic Violence Leave entitlement does not automatically apply to those workers who are not employed under an award. However, any employer can introduce a policy that includes this entitlement, regardless of whether it is mandated by legislation.

As an employer, what do I need to change?

The best way to incorporate this amendment into the workplace is to have a family and domestic violence policy. This can also outline any other services or assistance packages that employers might offer their employees.
Employers should be mindful to treat all information confidentially and to make that clear to employees at the time.
You also might like to access the Fair Work Ombudsman’s Employer guide to family and domestic violencewhich is designed to help employers understand their responsibilities towards employees experiencing family and domestic violence.

Snedden Hall & Gallop can assist you

The team at Snedden Hall & Gallop Lawyers can assist you by reviewing your employment policies and procedures. We can advise you about your obligations under these changes to the legislation and help you to prepare a family and domestic violence policy.
We assist a wide range of business clients with their employment needs. Please contact us by phone on on (02) 6285 8000 or by email to speak to a member of our experienced Employment Law team.