Changes to the Australian National Employment Standards (NES) will come into effect today. Such changes will alter the nature of employee entitlements for Family and Domestic Violence Leave.
From August 1 2023, employees of Australian business employers with a team of 14 or fewer will be entitled to take up to ten (10) days of paid Family and Domestic Violence Leave. This is up from the five (5) days of unpaid leave previously available. Pay is based on an employee’s full base rate.
The extension came into effect for businesses with 15 or more employees in February. The vast majority of beauty salons in Australia employ less than that number. Hence, the introduction of this amendment holds great relevance now to most salon employees.
This entitlement is granted to full-time, part-time and casual employees. The full leave entitlement is available to all employees immediately. Therefore, this leave would not need to be accrued (unlike annual or sick leave). Leave will renew every year on the individual employee’s employment anniversary date. Leave does not accumulate if not taken.
This ruling corresponds to The Fair Work Amendment (Paid Family and Domestic Violence Leave) Act 2022. News of the amendment was outlined in The Fair Work Legislation Amendment (Secure Jobs, Better Pay) Bill 2022 announced last year.
According to the Fair Work Ombudsman, under the new provisions, an employee is experiencing family and domestic violence if the employee’s close relative, current or former intimate partner, or member of their household both:
- seeks to coerce or control them and cause them harm or fear
- is violent, threatening or behaves in another abusive way.
In Australia, 62 percent of women who have experienced or are currently experiencing domestic and family violence are in the paid workforce. According to The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU), it costs $18,000 on average to escape a violent relationship in Australia. Economic security is a key factor determining whether a person can escape a dangerous relationship.
Family and domestic violence largely remains a women’s issue, “with 1 in 4 women having experienced some form of violence since the age of 15 by an intimate partner,” says Australian Services Union Assistant National Secretary Emeline Gaske. “Australia has a serious problem with women’s safety and gender equality.”
“Domestic violence is too common and even more prevalent in the beauty industry due to the number of women in our sector,” Maureen Harding, National President of The Hair & Beauty Australia Industry Association (HABA) tells Professional Beauty. She agrees that gainful employment plays a vital role in a woman’s ability to maintain independence. “A stable workplace can be the only safe space for victims, and work colleagues can be the best support networks.”
Despite the new ruling, HABA insists governments, judicial and health systems do more to offer support “as a few extra days off, while helpful, is not going to change the underlying issue.” Lasting change, Maureen adds, will only come from further investment.
More information on how an employee can go about taking Family and Domestic Violence leave is available on the Fair Work website.
For support, contact 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit their website.
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