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Family and Domestic Violence and Employment Law

Family and domestic violence can happen to anyone, however it is most commonly committed by men against women. This information sheet is primarily designed for women experiencing family and domestic violence to highlight its interaction with particular employment law rights.

We have provided a short summary of entitlements and issues on this page. For full detail, please download the full fact sheet.

Family and domestic violence leave

The National Employment Standards in the Fair Work Act 2009 provide 5 days unpaid leave per year to all national system employees (including casuals) experiencing domestic and family violence. The leave is available in the event an employee needs to do something to deal with the impact of the domestic and family violence and it is impractical for them to do it outside their ordinary hours of work.

Requests for flexible working arrangements

Flexible working arrangements can include taking time off work to do something to deal with domestic and family violence such as going to court, the doctor or moving house. Flexible working arrangements may also include working from home, working part-time, flexible start and finish times or job sharing. It may occur as a one-off, occasionally, for a fixed period of time or indefinitely.

Workplace Health and Safety

The effects of family and domestic violence could have implications for workplace health and safety. Generally speaking, employers have an obligation to, ‘so far as is reasonably practicable, provide and maintain for employees… a working environment that is safe and without risks to health’. In certain circumstances involving family and domestic violence, your employer may need to take appropriate action to provide you with a healthy and safe workplace. If you have any concerns, contact WorkSafe in your state.

Workplace Bullying

Under the Fair Work Act 2009, workplace bullying occurs when ‘an individual or group of individuals repeatedly behaves unreasonably towards a worker or group of workers and the behaviour creates a risk to health and safety’. However, reasonable management action conducted in a reasonable manner does not constitute workplace bullying.

Situations of workplace bullying could arise where you work in the same workplace as your domestic partner or are bullied by a fellow employee as a result of your experience of family and domestic violence. In such circumstances, you may be able to apply for a ‘stop bullying order’.

Discrimination

If you have been discriminated against by your employer, you may be able to make a discrimination complaint, on the basis of employment activity, family or carer status, or an unreasonable refusal to accommodate family responsibilities, within 6 months of the discriminatory conduct under federal legislation, or 12 months under state legislation.

Adverse Action

Adverse action by an employer is unlawful if it is taken because of one or more protected grounds including ‘workplace rights’ and ‘family responsibilities’. In these circumstances, you may be able to file a General Protections Dispute – Non-termination claim within 6 years, because making your request may constitute a ‘workplace right’. You can also consider making a complaint to the Fair Work Ombudsman.

Termination

You may be also eligible for unfair dismissal or General Protections Dispute – Termination claims if your employment is terminated. There is a strict 21 day time limit to making these claims.

For further support

For full details on the topics above, please download the full fact sheet.

Call our Telephone Information Service on Melbourne Metro (03) 9662 1933 or Regional Victoria, Queensland and Tasmania on 1800 331 617.

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