From 1 August 2018, employees who are covered by a Modern Award, and who are unable to deal with the impact of family and domestic violence issues outside their normal working hours, will be given access to 5 days of unpaid family and domestic violence leave each year.
Various employer groups argued against unpaid family and domestic violence leave citing, among other reasons, that:
- by awarding the entitlement, the Fair Work Commission was prioritising a particular social concern over others contrary to its role; and
- other forms of leave such as personal or annual leave, can already be accessed by employees to deal with domestic and family violence.
However, in coming to its decision to award the entitlement, the Fair Work Commission remarked on the ubiquitous nature of family and domestic violence, stating:
“One in four women in Australia have experienced such violence (almost 2.2 million women). Such violence not only affects those who suffer it, but the children who are exposed to it, extended families, friends and work colleagues. It is an issue that impacts on workplaces and which requires specific action”. 
The Commission further added:
“Around 62 percent of women who experience violence in the last 12 months were in paid work. Employment is an important pathway out of violent relationships. Sustained periods of employment can provide financial security, independence, social networks and increased self-esteem.”
Who is entitled to family and domestic violence leave?
The entitlements will be available in full, to all employees under a Modern Award, including casuals and part-time employees, with all industry and occupation awards due to be updated to contain the new family and domestic violence provisions.
Employees excluded from claiming the entitlement include those employees under:
- Enterprise Awards;
- State reference public sector awards;
- Other registered agreements; and
- Award and agreement free employees.
When will employees be entitled?
Unlike other entitlements, family and domestic violence leave will not accrue or accumulate from year to year. Instead, the entitlement will be available in full at the commencement of every 12-month period.
Employees will not be required to access any available paid leave before accessing family and domestic violence leave.