Family violence is a serious issue that can have a devastating impact on victims. It can also have a significant effect on their ability to work.
Fortunately, Australia recognizes the profound effects of family violence on an individual’s work performance and mental well-being.
Under the Family Violence Leave provision in the Fair Work Act, victims are allowed and encouraged to take necessary time off. This enables them to seek medical help, legal assistance, counseling, or even to relocate to a safer environment.
The objective is clear: providing employees with the space and time to heal, recover, and restructure their lives.
This approach underscores the country’s commitment to safeguarding its citizens’ welfare and acknowledges the broader societal impact of family violence on workplace productivity and community health.
What Is Family Violence Leave In Australia?
Family violence leave is paid time off that employees in Australia can take if they are suffering or have experienced family violence. The break is open to full-time and part-time workers and can take up to 10 days per year.
To get family violence leave, an employee must show their boss a statement from a qualified professional, like a doctor or social worker, that says they are or have been a victim of family violence.
Workers are entitled to regular pay and benefits during family violence leave. They are also protected from having their boss mistreat them.
Visit the website of the Fair Work Ombudsman to learn more about family violence leave in Australia.
Who Is Eligible For Family Violence Leave In Australia?
To qualify for family violence leave in Australia, adhere to these guidelines:
- You must hold a full-time, part-time, casual, or contractual position.
- A minimum of 12 months’ employment with your current employer is mandatory.
- A written statement from a recognized professional, such as a physician or social worker, confirming your encounter with family violence is essential.
This statement should:
- Bear the professional’s signature.
- Indicate the specific date(s) for the family violence leave.
- Outline the type of family violence encountered.
You are not required to disclose the details of your family violence to your employer.
If you want to avoid providing a statement from a qualified professional, you can speak to your employer about other ways to verify your leave. For example, you could give a copy of a police report or a restraining order.
It is important to remember that your employer is not allowed to discriminate against you for taking family violence leave. This means that they cannot:
- Ask you for details about your family violence
- Deny you leave
- Retaliate against you for taking leave
If you believe your employer has discriminated against you, contact the Fair Work Ombudsman for assistance.
What Can The Leave Be Used For?
Family Violence Leave can be used by eligible employees to address various family and domestic violence issues. Specifically, the leave can be utilized to:
- Seek medical attention or counseling for physical or psychological injuries caused by family violence.
- Attend legal proceedings or seek legal assistance related to the violence.
- Obtain support services or participate in safety planning.
- Relocate or make arrangements to improve safety, such as changing locks or seeking a safe shelter.
- Attend appointments with a counselor, lawyer, or support service agency.
- Deal with any other matters directly related to the adverse effects of family and domestic violence.
It is important to note that family violence leave differs from sick or annual leave.
Family violence leave is specifically designed to help employees who are experiencing or have experienced family violence.
If you are unsure whether you are eligible for family violence leave, you should speak to your employer or an AVO lawyer.
Do I Need To Provide Evidence For Taking Family Violence Leave?
When an employee requests Family Violence Leave, employers can ask for evidence to substantiate the reason for the leave. However, the type of evidence required should be manageable. Acceptable forms of evidence can include:
- Documents issued by the police, court, or legal professionals related to the violence
- Medical records or documentation from a health professional detailing the effects or risk of family violence
- A statement from a family violence support service or a counselor
- A statutory declaration or personal affidavit
Employers must handle this evidence carefully and ensure confidentiality, safeguarding employees’ privacy and safety.
Will My Leave Be Confidential?
Yes, employers treat any request for or taking of Family Violence Leave in Australia with the utmost confidentiality.
Employers must protect and ensure the privacy of the employee’s details and the circumstances surrounding the leave.
Any documentation or evidence that supports the leave should also be handled discreetly, safeguarding the employee’s safety and privacy.
It’s essential for employees to feel secure when requesting such leave, knowing their information won’t be disclosed without their consent.
What If I Need More Than 10 Days?
If you need more than 10 days of family violence leave, you may be able to take unpaid leave or request a more extended period of paid leave from your employer.
Your employer is not obligated to grant you more than 10 days of paid leave, but they may be willing to do so if you provide them with a good reason.
Here are some reasons why your employer might be willing to grant you more than 10 days of paid leave:
- Family violence is causing you significant emotional or physical harm.
- You need to take time off to relocate to a safe place.
- You need to take time off to attend court or mediation appointments.
- You need to take time off to receive medical treatment.
If you cannot agree with your employer about taking more than 10 days of paid leave, you may be able to take unpaid leave. The National Employment Standards do not cover unpaid leave, so your employer is not legally obligated to grant it to you.
However, many employers will allow employees to take unpaid leave in extenuating circumstances.
Facing challenges from family violence and unsure about your work rights?
In Australia, Family Violence Leave provides the support you deserve. Let Justice Family Lawyers guide you through your entitlements and help you navigate this difficult time. Reach out now and let our experts stand by your side. Your well-being and rights are paramount.
Principal of Justice Family Lawyers, Hayder specialises in complex parenting and property family law matters. He is based in Sydney and holds a Bachelor of Law and Bachelor of Communications from UTS.