Home' HR Monthly : February 2019 Contents 38
AND HR REPORT
Get an overview of HR-related policies and
practices that support victims of domestic
violence in Australian workplaces, with AHRI’s
research report. Exclusive to AHRI members.
o w t h at family and domestic violence
(FDV) leave has become part of the
National Employment Standards (NES),
it’s a good time for employers to ensure they
understand the entitlement and consider some
potentially tricky issues that can arise.
Any workplace could be employing an FDV
victim. The Bureau of Statistics says that, of
Australians aged over 15, one in six women and
one in 16 men have experienced physical and/
or sexual violence by an intimate partner. These
nu mbers don’t include other forms of FDV.
On 1 August 2018, five days of unpaid
FDV leave was made an entitlement for all
employees covered by modern awards and the
Morrison government made it part of the NES
The ALP wants to take it further and
match New Zealand’s 10 days paid FDV leave
entitlement (which commences January 2019).
Many public sector workers already have access
to 10 days of paid FDV leave.
Helping not hindering
Dealing with applications for FDV leave requires
compassion and sensitivity. Respect for privacy
is critical to avoid making the situation worse.
Employers need people who have been trained
to spot the signs of FDV and know how to help
employees access their entitlements. Employers
should provide training on:
• Confidentiality and privacy
• Accessing employee assistance programs and
other avenues for help and assistance
• Developing objectivity and impartiality
• Maintaining professional distance and
• Overcoming unconscious bias
Careful consideration needs to be given to
how, and in what circumstances, confidentiality
is maintained. There may be circumstances
when information about an employee’s situation
may need to be shared within the organisation.
For example, if there are concerns regarding
This should be done on a need-to -know basis
and with the prior consent of the employee.
Employees who disclose FDV should be advised
how their information will be managed.
Record keeping is another issue. While FDV
leave records will be “employee records” for the
employee record exemption under the Privacy
Act, these records should be managed in a
similar way to other sensitive employee records.
FDV records should be marked ‘confidential’,
and access confined to authorised employees
only – similar to information on grievances or
Also consider how FDV leave is recorded
in payroll systems. If access can’t be restricted
via a specific FDV leave payroll code, then
consider manually recording information on a
Employers must also recognise that employees
experiencing FDV may not be in a position to
immediately provide supporting documentation.
Employers covered by an award should ensure
they understand the entitlement and put in place
an FDV leave policy, setting out:
• What the entitlement is
• How the organisation will assist employees
experiencing and/or disclosing FDV
• Who to talk to in the organisation
• How to apply for FDV leave, including how
and by whom those applications will be
• Steps the employer will take to protect
the privacy of employees and maintain
• Whether any evidence will be required and,
if so, what evidence (for example, docu ments
issued by the police, a court, a registered
health practitioner, a law yer, an FDV support
Employers not covered by an award and who
don’t have a formal FDV leave policy should be
implementing one, given that the entitlement is
part of the NES.
Finally, FDV leave is not the only way an
employer can help those affected to feel safe and
supported when they are at work. Perhaps the
most important way to help is by recognising
signs – not just obvious physical injuries, but
other signs including arriving late, consistently
calling in sick, and being distracted and
unproductive at work. •••
Family and domestic violence entitlements
are increasing, but it remains a challenging
issue for employers.
BY KYLIE GROVES, PARTNER AT HALL & WILCOX
24/1/19 4:11 pm
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