Australia is making waves with a recent change in employment policies that have a significant impact on the lives of workers. “The connection with work, the payment of wages, is really important in keeping stability in the lives of those experiencing violence when they are attempting to leave a domestic violence situation,” said Minister of Social Services Amanda Rishworth.
Earlier this year there was significant development in this area, and it’s worth exploring how it affects businesses and employees alike.
What Was the Leave Before, and What Is It Now?
The Fair Work Amendment (Paid Family and Domestic Violence Leave) Bill 2022 amended the Fair Work Act 2009 and has replaced the five unpaid leave days for family and domestic violence outlined in the National Employment Standards.
For non-small businesses with at least 15 employee the new laws came into effect 1 February 2023, and for employers with fewer than 15 employees the new laws came into effect on 1 August 2023.
The new paid leave replaces an existing entitlement of five days of unpaid family and domestic violence leave available under the National Employment Standards (NES). Employees can still access the unpaid leave until paid leave is available for their workplace.
The family and domestic violence leave is available to all employees of small businesses that are covered by the national (Fair Work) industrial relations system (usually incorporated businesses – those with “Pty Ltd” or “Ltd” in their name).
The scheme does not yet apply to employers under WA’s state industrial relations system (such as sole traders and partnerships). However, it is likely to come into effect for state system employers in 2024.
In the state industrial relations system, full time, part time and casual employees are entitled to five days’ unpaid family and domestic violence leave in each 12 month period. The five days’ unpaid leave is available in full to part time and casual employees (it is not pro rata based on hours of employment). This leave is available in full at the start of each 12 month period of the employee’s employment and does not accumulate from year to year.
Over 12 months, full-time, part-time, and casual employees can take up to 10 days of paid family and domestic violence leave.
- The leave is pro-rated for part-time or casual employees.
- No matter how many hours employees work per week, they are entitled to 10 days of family and domestic violence leave.
Employees who started employment on or after 1 February 2023 are entitled to the full 10 days from their starting day.
The paid family and domestic violence leave renewal is on the employee’s start date anniversary, not on the 1 February every year.
The 10-day entitlement does not accumulate year after year, like annual leave.
An employee’s pay slip must not contain any information regarding paid family and domestic violence leave as of 1 February 2023.
Why the Change?
Australia’s move to introduce paid family and domestic violence leave stems from a growing recognition of the serious issue of domestic violence within society. It’s a problem that transcends borders, affecting countless lives. The government has taken this crucial step to provide support and financial security to those who need it most during times of crisis.
How Does This Affect Organisations?
So, how does this change affect organisations? It’s not just about compassion; there are practical implications too. For starters, organisations need to ensure they’re aware of this new policy. It’s a game-changer, and being informed is the first step.
Furthermore, organisations will need to adapt their HR policies and procedures to accommodate this leave. It might mean providing training to staff, updating employee handbooks, and ensuring that the necessary systems are in place to grant this leave when required.
What’s the ‘Norm’? How Revolutionary Is This?
To put things in perspective, not every country offers paid family and domestic violence leave. Australia is making significant strides by taking this step. It’s not just progressive; it’s also compassionate, acknowledging the very real challenges people face outside of the workplace.
Do Businesses Need to Do Anything to Meet This Change?
Yes, indeed. Organisations should familiarise themselves with the new legislation and update their policies accordingly. This isn’t just about compliance; it’s about being a part of a positive change in society. By supporting your employees through difficult times, you’re not only adhering to the law but also creating a workplace culture that values its people.
In conclusion, Australia’s Paid Family and Domestic Violence Leave is a monumental step toward creating a safer, more compassionate workplace. It’s a win for employees, businesses, and society as a whole. As a business owner or HR professional, staying informed and proactive is key to smoothly implementing this change.
Here at Cintra Global, we understand the evolving landscape of workplace policies and can provide you with the guidance and tools you need to ensure your business is on the right track. Our experts can help you navigate these changes, ensuring compliance and fostering a workplace culture that truly cares.
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