Employees in Australia, to whom a Modern Award applies, now have access to 5 days unpaid domestic and family violence leave a year, following a ruling made by the Fair Work Commission earlier this year as part of its four-yearly review.

All Modern Awards have now been amended to include a new clause about family and domestic violence.  The clause, which came into effect on 1 August 2018, provides that unpaid leave may be taken by an employee if they are experiencing domestic and family violence and need to deal with the impact of such violence – such as, making arrangement for their safety or the safety of their children or to attend court hearings – in circumstances where it is impractical for them to do so outside of their ordinary hours of work.

The entitlement to 5 days leave is available in full for all employees (including part-time and casual employees) at the commencement of each 12 month period of the employee’s employment, rather than accruing progressively during the year of service or being calculated on a pro-rata basis based on hours of work, and will not accumulate from year to year.

While there is currently no entitlement to domestic and family violence leave under the Fair Work Act 2009, the Federal Government has indicated an intention to amend the Fair Work Act 2009 in line with the new clause inserted into Modern Awards to ensure that the entitlement to unpaid domestic and family violence leave can be accessed by all national system employees.

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