Family violence is a serious social issue affecting individuals and families in Australia and across the world.
In an effort to support workers who are affected by family violence, the Australian government has recently introduced paid family and domestic violence leave as a standard employment entitlement.
As early (and voluntary) adopters of paid family and domestic violence leave for our team, here at Parker Coles Curtis we are cheering in support of the government’s recognition that vulnerable employees need time out of their employment, without financial or career disadvantage, to deal with the effects of a violent relationship. This might include seeking medical treatment, getting legal advice, planning for their safe exit from a domestic violence situation, or attending Court to obtain protection orders.
Alongside personal, bereavement and recreational leave, the new employee entitlements means that Australian workers experiencing family and domestic violence can access paid leave from their work duties. Where 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men are affected by physical family and domestic violence, this is a long-awaited and hard-fought win for workers across all industries in Australia. Where Australian laws accept that family and domestic violence encompasses other forms of violence beyond purely physical forms - such as verbal abuse, stalking, harassment, financial abuse, emotional and psychological abuse, intimidation and coercive and controlling behaviours – this new workplace entitlement provides a much-needed resource for victims to help them get their lives back on track.
Importantly, when taking this leave, the employee has the option of requesting that the leave be recorded by the employer in a category of the employee’s choosing. This allows employers the chance to limit future risk to an employee’s safety by the inadvertent disclosure of accessing the family and domestic violence leave within HR records, which the employer may be compelled to produce as part of Freedom of Information or Court processes.
One way this can be achieved is for employers to issue employees accessing this leave with pay slips that reflect as closely as possible, the pay slip that would have been issued but for the paid family Violence and Domestic Violence leave. This may avoid ‘tipping off’ a perpetrator monitoring the employee through a change in the employee’s usual salary payment in their bank account or payslip. Where the occurrence of coercive and controlling conduct – including surveillance of victims by perpetrator through digital and financial methods – is occurring at high rates, this is a prudent safety measure.
Our team at Parker Coles Curtis are highly experienced at working with clients experiencing family and domestic violence. Our trauma-informed lawyers can support you through feeling trapped and isolated by your situation, to newfound freedom and empowerment. If you need to escape from fear and uncertainty and move forward, we are here to guide you through.
Parker Coles Curtis is here for you when life happens. Contact our team today on (02) 5114 2660 for a free, confidential 15-minute chat with one of our skilled lawyers.