UPDATE for August 2018: The FWC has updated all industry and occupation awards to include a new clause about family and domestic violence leave. The new clause applies from the first full pay period on or after 1 August 2018.

Employers! It is a good time to review and update your policies and procedures, not only regarding the new entitlement but also for procedures around the storing of sensitive and personal information related to the notification requirements.

All employees covered by an industry or occupation award with the new clause are entitled to 5 days of unpaid family and domestic violence leave each year, although it does not accumulate from year to year if unused.

Family and domestic violence in the new clause means: violent, threatening or other abusive behaviour by an employee’s family member that seeks to coerce or control the employee and causes them harm or fear.

Employees can also take the leave if they need to deal with the impact of family and domestic violence and it is impractical to do so outside their ordinary hours of work.

The entitlement is not available to employees who are covered by enterprise awards, state reference public sector awards, enterprise agreements and other registered agreements, or to employees who are award and agreement free. However, these employees who aren’t entitled to the new unpaid family and domestic violence leave entitlements, could be entitled to other paid or unpaid leave in such circumstances under their award, EA, registered agreement, contract of employment, or their employer might have a workplace policy allowing them to take family and domestic violence leave.

If an employee covered by an industry or occupation award also has an entitlement to unpaid family and domestic violence leave in their employment contract or workplace policy and that contract or policy provides less than 5 days per year, the award entitlement applies.

It will also be important to tell employees that this entitlement exists and how it will work – send around the new policy and explain what happens with any existing leave entitlements under an industrial instrument, contract or policy.