The Albanese Labour government has, as one of its first legislative moves, introduced a bill to create a ‘universal’ entitlement to 10 days of paid family and domestic violence leave (FDVL) into the National Employment Standards (NES). It is important to note that the bill has not yet been approved, and the current FDVL is in place.
What is the proposed bill?
The proposed entitlement replaces the current NES entitlement of five days of unpaid FDVL and is available where an employee needs time off work to do something to deal with the impact of family and domestic violence in circumstances where they cannot attend to matters outside of work hours.
As well as other changes the bill proposes, the definition of Family and Domestic Violence has been extended to include conduct by a member of a person’s household and a current or former intimate partner, and the entitlement has been extended to non-national system employees.
The bill introduced today would give rise to a new form of paid leave under the NES, which:
- Is accessible by all employees, including casuals who have been ‘rostered’ (e.g. have accepted an offer to work)
- Is available ‘upfront’, meaning the leave does not accrue and is available in full (i.e. 10 days of pay) at the commencement of every year and is payable at the rate that the employee would have earned had they worked instead of taking the leave (instead of being payable at base rates).
These characteristics make this new form of leave a unique form of paid leave within the Fair Work system.
It is a form of paid leave available to casuals and will likely require an employer to speculate what an employee would have been paid had they worked during the period of leave (that is, including loadings and allowances but also potentially commissions and incentive payments).
It will also allow all employees, including casuals, to take paid leave from the commencement of their employment.
What will this mean for your business?
To provide time for payroll and other necessary adjustments, the proposed new paid entitlement will commence on 1 February 2023 for employees employed other than by a small business employer.
An additional transition period of six months will be provided for employers who meet the definition of small business employer in the Act as of 1 February 2023 (ie fewer than 15 employees).
Recommended Actions By SCHR:
- Stay up to date with the movements of the bill. Refer to the Fair Work Ombudsman for updates on any confirmed changes. See https://www.fairwork.gov.au/leave/family-and-domestic-violence-leave for more information.
- Seek professional advice to understand your obligations relating to paid domestic violence leave and the steps you need to comply with any new FDVL changes
- If you do not already have one, introduce a leave entitlements policy to your business that will outline the available leave entitlements outlined by the NES.
- If you have an existing leave entitlements policy, review and update it to ensure compliance with legislation.
- If the bill is confirmed, consider introducing a separate family and domestic leave policy outlining any new changes
- Review your employment contracts to ensure the wording is consistent with the available leave entitlements outlined by the NES
We can help you with all of the above! If you are concerned or require clarification on what this means for your business. Got a question? Call us at 1300 620 100 or email us to find out more.