On Monday 26 March 2018, the FWC provisionally ruled that a model domestic violence leave clause should be inserted into 119 of the 122 modern awards in Australia.
The Fair Work Commission has recently handed down its decision to introduce 5 days unpaid domestic violence leave in to modern awards. The provisions are to be inserted into almost all of the modernised awards, with two Road Transport awards, and the Australian Government Industry Award, exempted as they are to be subject to other proceedings at a later time.
The FWC rejected employer arguments opposing the creation of the new form of (unpaid) leave, highlighting that "our preliminary view [is] that there is a need for unpaid family and domestic violence leave and access to personal leave in a wider range of circumstance". The Commission also found that "domestic and other forms of violence have real and tangible impacts on employees and employers in the workplace", whilst noting that such unpaid leave serves to confirm the significance of family and domestic violence leave as a workplace right and provides an employment protection in circumstances where there is a need to access such leave.
"...Whilst men can experience family and domestic violence, family and domestic violence is a gendered phenomenon which means it disproportionally affects women."
The Commission hoped the ruling would enable affected employees to take unpaid leave if they need to do something to deal with the impact of the violence – such as making arrangements for their safety or the safety of their children – without impacting their employment.
The model clause will be finalised in the ‘coming weeks’, with a further hearing being held on Tuesday 1 May 2018 to progress this aspect.