Family domestic violence leave - schools

Domestic and family violence is when someone intentionally uses violence, threats, force or intimidation to control or manipulate a family member, partner or former partner. It is characterised by an imbalance of power whereby the perpetrator uses abusive behaviours and tactics to obtain power and control over the victim causing fear. The violence is intentional and systematic and often increases in frequency and severity the longer the relationship goes on (Carrington & Phillips 2003; Tually, Faulkner, Culter & Slater 2008).

General agreements for both schools and TAFE contain family and domestic violence leave clauses. The schools clause is listed below. The TAFE clause, clause 47, differs only slightly and can be read in full at sstuwa.org.au or by clicking here.

30. Family and Domestic Violence Leave

30.1 In recognition that employees sometimes face situations of violence and/or abuse in their personal life that may affect their attendance or performance at work the Employer has agreed to the leave which is the subject of this clause. The Employer is committed to providing support to employees who experience family and domestic violence.

30.2 An Employee will not be discriminated against or have adverse action taken against them because of their disclosure of, experience of, or perceived experience of, family and domestic violence.

30.3 The Employer does not tolerate Employees perpetrating family and domestic violence in or from the workplace. Employees must not use work facilities to perpetrate family and domestic violence. Any such conduct is a breach of employment obligations and any Employees who do so will face disciplinary action.

Definition of Family and Domestic Violence

30.4 (a) The meaning of family and domestic violence is in accordance with the definition of ‘family violence’ in the Restraining Orders Act 1997 (section 5A).

(b) To avoid doubt, this definition includes behaviour that:

(i) is physically or sexually abusive; or

(ii) is emotionally or psychologically abusive; or

(iii) is economically abusive; or

(iv) is threatening; or

(v) is coercive; or

(vi) in any other way controls or dominates the family or household member and causes that person to feel fear for their safety or wellbeing or that of another person; or

(vii) causes a child to hear or witness, or otherwise be exposed to the effects of, such behaviour.

Access to Family and Domestic Violence Leave

30.5 In accordance with the following subclauses, an Employee, including a casual Employee may make application for leave to deal with activities related to family and domestic violence. The Employer will assess each application and give consideration to the personal circumstances of the employee seeking the leave.

30.6 Such activities related to family and domestic violence may include attendance at medical appointments, legal proceedings; counselling, appointments with a medical or legal practitioner; relocation or making other safety arrangements; and other matters of a compassionate or pressing nature related to the family and/or domestic violence which may arise without notice and require immediate attention.

30.7 Subject to clauses 30.5 and 30.6, an Employee experiencing family and domestic violence will have access to ten (10) non-cumulative days per year of paid family and domestic violence leave, in addition to their existing leave entitlements. Other leave entitlements do not need to be exhausted to access this Family and Domestic Violence Leave.

30.8 Upon exhaustion of the leave entitlement in clause 30.7, Employees will be entitled to up to two (2) days unpaid family and domestic violence leave on each occasion.

30.9 Family and domestic violence leave does not affect salary increment dates, personal leave entitlements, long service leave entitlements or annual leave entitlements.

30.10 Subject to the Employer’s approval of the application, family and domestic violence leave may be taken as whole or part days off.

30.11 Application of the leave entitlement for casual Employees will apply to the extent of their agreed working arrangements.

Notice and Evidentiary Requirements

30.12 The Employee shall give his or her Employer notice as soon as reasonably practicable of their request to take leave under this clause.

30.13 Supporting evidence of family and domestic violence may be required to access paid leave entitlements however this should not be onerous on the Employee. Leave can be granted without supporting documentation when the manager/supervisor is satisfied that it is not required.

30.14 Evidence may include a document issued by the police, a court, a legal service, a health professional or a counsellor, a financial institution, a family and domestic violence support service or a refuge service. A statutory declaration may also be provided.

30.15 Such evidence will be dealt with in accordance with the confidentiality provisions in this clause. Only the Employee will retain a copy of the evidence and information will not be kept on an Employee’s personnel file, unless otherwise agreed.

Access to Other Forms of Leave

30.16 Subject to the leave provisions of this General Agreement and the Award, an Employee experiencing family and domestic violence may use other leave entitlements

30.17 Subject to the Employer’s approval of the application, and sufficient leave credits being available, leave may be taken as whole or part days off.

30.18 Forms of other paid leave include:

(a) clause 31 – Carer’s Leave,

(b) clause 40 – Short Leave and

(c) clause 41 – Sick Leave; and

(d) clause 38 – Long Service Leave of the Award.

30.19 Approval of leave without pay is subject to the provisions of clause 36 – Leave Without Pay of the Award.

Confidentiality

30.20 The Employer will take all reasonable steps to ensure any information disclosed by employees regarding family and domestic violence is kept strictly confidential. Disclosure will be on a need-to-know basis only and only to maintain safety. Where possible, disclosure will only occur with the express consent of the Employee.

30.21 Employers will take reasonable steps to ensure any information or documentation provided by an Employee regarding family and domestic violence is kept confidential. Generally speaking, only the Employee will retain a copy of evidence for accessing family and domestic violence leave and information will not be kept on an Employee’s personnel file.

30.22 Subsequent disclosure within an organisation should be on a need-to-know basis, for example if there is a potential for workplace safety to be impacted and generally with the consent of the Employee.

30.23 This clause does not override any legal obligations to disclose information.

Contact Person

30.24 The Employer will identify contact/s within the Department who will be trained in family and domestic violence and associated privacy issues. The Employer will advertise the name of any Family and Domestic Violence contacts within the workplace.

Individual Support

30.25 Where there is a risk to the personal health or safety of an employee who is experiencing or has experienced family and domestic violence, the Employer, where appropriate, may:

(a) facilitate flexible working arrangements, such as changes to hours/days worked, or working different days or length of days, in accordance with the provisions of the General Agreement and the Award; and/or

(b) make workplace modifications including changes to the Employee’s telephone number and amending the Employee’s email address and, where appropriate/practicable, the Employee’s work location.

30.26 An Employee who is experiencing or has experienced family and domestic violence may access confidential counselling support via the Employer’s Employee Assistance Program.

Workplace Safety

30.27 Where an Employee raises issues of family and domestic violence the Employer should establish with the Employee the level of risk and seek advice from the Occupational Health and Safety Branch of the Employee Relations Directorate to review and implement specific safety and emergency management systems and plans.

30.28 With the exception of access to the Employer’s Employee Assistance Program which is available to all Employees, the provisions of this clause are only applicable to Employees who are victims of family and domestic violence.

What can I do?
  • Ensure all members of your branch/worksite have access to and understand their entitlements in relation to this clause.

Updated March 2019