What do I need to know about the government’s new Paid Domestic Violence Leave?

By Best Wilson Buckley Family Law |05 February 2023 |Domestic and Family Violence-Articles

What do I need to know about the government’s new Paid Domestic Violence Leave?

Please be advised this article contains details of domestic and family violence which may be triggering for some readers.

As of 1 February 2023, 10 days of paid family and domestic violence leave is now available for employees of “non-small business” employers.

Employees of a small business will be able to access the leave from 1 August 2023. A non-small business is considered to be a business with 15 or more employees. Set out below are some fast facts about what you need to know about this new policy.

Who can access the leave?

The paid family and domestic violence leave is available to all employees, including full-time, part-time, and casual employees.

What is the meaning of family and domestic violence?

Family and domestic violence has an extremely broad definition.  However, for the purposes of paid leave, family and domestic violence means “violent, threatening, or other abusive behaviour by an employee’s close relative, a current or former intimate partner, or a member of their household that both seeks to coerce or control the employee and/or causes them harm or fear”.

A close relative is:

  • - An employee’s spouse or former spouse, de facto partner or former de facto partner, child, parent, grandparent, grandchild or sibling;
  • - A child, parent, grandparent, grandchild or sibling of an employee’s current or former spouse or de facto partner; or
  • - A person related to the employee according to Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander kinship rules.

How much leave does the policy provide for?

Employees are entitled to 10 days of paid family and domestic violence leave in a 12 month period. It does not need to be accrued – the 10 days is provided on an upfront basis.

The leave does not accumulate each year if it is not accessed. It is simply a flat rate of 10 days each year, which renews on an employee’s employment anniversary. For example, if a person commences their employment on 1 January 2023 and between that date and 1 January 2024, the employee uses 5 days of their leave, the amount of days renews at 10 days as of 1 January 2024.

How can an employee access the leave?

Employees can utilise the leave if they need to take time to do a certain act to deal with or manage the impact of family and domestic violence. For example, attending counselling or psychology appointments, attending a Court date, attending with police, or seeking the assistance of medical, financial or legal professionals in relation to the family and domestic violence.

If the leave is utilised, an employee is entitled to be paid at their full rate as if they would have worked and were not on leave.

What evidence may need to be provided?

An employer is entitled to request evidence from an employee who has accessed their paid leave to confirm that the leave is required to do something to deal with family and domestic violence and it is not possible or practicable for this to occur outside of work hours. For example, an employee may be able to show an employer a Court document that contains the date of the Court hearing they need to attend or confirmation of an appointment for medical or psychological treatment. It is important to be aware however that Court documents relating to family and domestic violence are typically highly confidential and it would only be suggested that evidence of the date of a Court attendance be provided – the balance of the document should not be disclosed to anybody that is not a party to the proceedings.

Family and domestic violence can have a significant impact on an individual. The new government policy is a groundbreaking approach to such a sensitive and difficult issue, which often causes extreme stress and pressure for people, particularly around needing to take time to appropriately deal with the issue. We are supportive of the new policy and consider this to be a positive step forward in supporting individuals who are unfortunately faced with difficulties of family and domestic violence.

If you or someone you know is in need of legal advice and support regarding domestic and family violence, contact our team of experienced domestic violence lawyers today. To discuss your options and a way forward, contact our BrisbaneIpswichNorth LakesToowoomba or Dalby offices today by phoning 07 4639 0000 or emailing us at [email protected]If you are in immediate danger, phone 000 for police and/or ambulance help.

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