By Tyler Wright
Millions of Australian workers will have their modern awards, which establish employment conditions, adapted to allow them access of up to 10 days’ paid family and domestic violence (FDV) leave each year after a decision handed down by the Fair Work Commission on Monday.
The Commission, during their four yearly review of modern awards, has also consulted government bodies and experts through the Family and Domestic Violence Leave Review which began in 2021.
Erin Foot, Program Manager of Inner and Outer East Family Violence at Anglicare Victoria and The Orange Door, said “any support” employers can provide staff experiencing family violence would be welcomed.
“When in crisis, employees’ lives are significantly impacted, often resulting in an inability to attend work or perform at their usual standards. When people don’t have access to appropriate leave, they continue to try to work so their financial situation is not impacted,” Ms Foot said.
“Access to family violence leave will be a massive support to families across the outer east and wider community. It will provide time and space to ensure safety, to access support services and seek alternate accommodation where needed,” she said.
Since 2015, workers in the Victorian public sector including nurses and teachers have had access to 20 days of paid family violence leave, or unpaid family violence leave for casual employees, with those in the private sector relying on modern awards and other agreements.
Michael Smith, CEO of the Eastern Community Legal Centre, said the decision is a step forward in supporting people impacted by family and domestic violence.
“A lot of people won’t use all that leave, but it gives people options in terms of getting help – whether it’s legal help from us or somebody else, whether it’s housing support or issues around education,” Mr Smith said.
“We’re at the court four days a week supporting people who are seeking to get or respond to an intervention order; we have specialist programs on family violence, and we have general legal help in that area, so we’re always happy to talk to people. And we have a reach right across the eastern region; including out in Lilydale and Healesville as well.”
The Fair Work Commission noted in their decision FDV leave helps individuals ‘maintain their economic security, access relevant services and safely exit to a life free from FDV.’
Under national employment standards, workers have had access to five days of unpaid family and domestic violence leave since 2018.
The leave will be paid at the employees’ base rate of pay.
If you or someone you know is experiencing family and domestic violence, contact 1800RESPECT or visit their website.