Date posted: April 9, 2018

The Fair Work Commission has recently handed down a decision provisionally ruling for a model domestic violence leave clause to be included into 119 of the 122 modern awards in Australia. The introduction of compulsory unpaid Family and Domestic Violence (FDV) Leave comes as a result of a submission by the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) which argued that FDV was not only a social issue but a workplace issue too.

Research to support the ACTU’s argument includes a 2011 Australian study which found 59% of women who had experienced domestic violence reported a negative effect on their work. Furthermore, of the 45% who did disclose their experience of violence to someone at work, only 10% found the response to be helpful. 

While the Fair Work Commission originally rejected the ACTU’s claim for 10 days paid FDV Leave, it came to the provisional view that five days’ unpaid leave would be appropriate for 119 Modern Awards. The three awards which it will not apply to are the Road Transport and Distribution Award 2010, the Road Transport (Long Distance Operations) Award 2010 and the Australian Government Industry Award 2016 which will be considered separately.

The new entitlement would be available for an “employee experiencing family and domestic violence if the employee needs to do something to deal with the impact of that violence and it is impractical for them to do it outside their ordinary hours of work”.

It would:

  • Apply to all employees (including part-time and casual employees) covered by Modern Awards (except the three listed above).
  • Be available in full at the commencement of each 12 month period (and not accrue progressively).
  • Not accumulate from year to year.
  • Be available in full to part-time and casual employees (i.e. not pro-rated).

Employees would not have to use any available paid leave entitlements before using FDV Leave.

It is important for employers to:

  • Start thinking about and assessing how they manage FDV in their workplaces.
  • Create a FDV Leave policy to set up how the employer intends to manage the issue so that they are not caught out when the clause is actually implemented.
  • Consider making a submission on the draft model clauses.

For advice regarding the FDV Leave changes, please contact us on (08) 9316 9896 or