In effect as of this week: Paid Family and Domestic Violence Leave (FDVL)

You may remember the blog we wrote in December 2022, or maybe you don’t remember, in which case it’s lucky you’re reading this (but it was a pretty good blog, so you can catch up here). As of 1 February 2023, employees of non-small businesses (that’s 15 or more employees) are entitled to 10 days of paid family and domestic violence leave (FDVL). Don’t worry – small business employees haven’t missed out; their entitlement comes into effect in August 2023.

The intention of this paid entitlement is to ensure Australian employees do not have to make a choice between earning a wage and protecting the safety of themselves and their families (employment Minister Tony Burke).

What does the entitlement look like?

The key headlines are this:

  • All full-time, part-time and casual employees will have the same entitlement – 10 days of paid FDVL.
  • This entitlement is paid at the employees full rate of pay (which includes overtime or penalties that would have been due) and for casuals it’s based on the number of hours they would have worked that day.
  • The entitlement is upfront and doesn’t accumulate year to year if unused.
  • It renews every year on the employee’s work anniversary (which means for the first 12 months, it is possible that employees might find themselves with up to 20 days available to them).

When might employees seek to use FDVL?

It can be accessed when employees need to do something to deal with the impacts of family and domestic violence, for example:

  • Attending court hearings
  • Making arrangements for safety (such as relocation)
  • Attending counselling
  • Accessing police services
  • Attending appointments related to legal, financial or medical professionals.

Although these are likely to be the most common reasons, it is not an exhaustive list and we’re likely to see additional reasons for people accessing this leave.

What do I need to know as an employer?

As with any other type of leave, as an employer you still have a right to request substantiation for FDVL, and it’s important that you have this written into your current Leave Policy. Failure to produce substantiation may result in the employee not being paid for that leave.

Types of substantiation may include:

  • Documents issued by the police
  • Documents issued by a court
  • Documents from family violence support services
  • Statutory declaration

An important requirement of the new paid FDVL is that in the event an employee accesses this leave, any reference to this on their pay slip is prohibited. You may choose to reflect it as “special leave” or “other leave”. However, you must still keep an internal and private record of the leave taken on the employee’s file to comply with record-keeping obligations. This information should be kept extremely confidential and disclosed to only those on a need-to-know basis (i.e. the manager that the employee disclosed the information to and payroll in order to process the leave request).

The key to being compliant with this very new and very sensitive leave type is by having a robust section in your current Leave Policy that clearly outlines the entitlement, how to access it and how the information provided to the Manager will be handled.

If you need support drafting a paid FDVL section for your current Leave Policy, or require a new Leave Policy altogether, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at info@hrgurus.com for some assistance!

Written by HR Guru, Madeleine Bray.

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