August 1, 2018 marks the day Australian workplaces will adopt a new workplace leave entitlement of unpaid leave for workers affected by family or domestic violence. The new unpaid leave entitles employees of industry or occupational awards to five days off each year.
This new entitlement follows a Fair Work Commission decision and applies to workers covered by an industry or occupational award including casual employees.
Family and Domestic Violence is defined by the Commission as “…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”.
A family member can include: a spouse or former spouse, de facto partner or former de facto partner, child, parent, grandparent, grandchild, sibling, a worker’s current or former spouse or de facto partner’s child, parent, grandparent, grandchild or sibling, or a person related to the worker according to Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander kinship rules.
However, this entitlement does not apply to workers who are covered by Enterprise awards, State reference public sector awards, enterprise and other registered agreements or those who work award and agreement free. Despite this, some of these workers might still have an entitlement to other paid or unpaid entitlements in their award or in a workplace policy that they may access in such circumstances.
Whilst this a positive outcome for a number of workers employed under awards, there are approximately six million workers that won’t be covered by this entitlement from 1 August 2018. Importantly, the Turnbull Government will be introducing legislation at the next parliamentary sitting to ensure these changes are made to the Fair Work Act. This will extend the new entitlement coverage to all workers covered by the Fair Work Act.
Please contact us today (1300 4 ADVICE) should you require assistance in understanding how this new entitlement affects your business or if any of your current policies require reviewing or developing in light of these changes.