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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 in order to highlight its interaction with particular employment law rights.

If you are experiencing family and domestic violence, you may need to consider the following things in relation to your work. The below information are short summaries, more detail can be found in the fact sheet which you should download.

Requests for flexible working arrangements

Flexible working arrangements can include taking time off work to do something to deal with domestic and family violence including, for example, 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.

If you are a national system employee, you can request flexible working arrangements under the National Employment Standards in the Fair Work Act 2009 if you are:

  • a permanent employee with at least 12 months of continuous service; or
  • a long term casual with a reasonable expectation of continuing employment on a regular and
    systematic basis


You would like to change your working arrangements because you are;

  • experiencing violence from a member of your family; or
  • providing care or support to a member of your immediate family or household who requires care or support because they are experiencing violence from a family member.

Requests need to be in writing and set out details of the change sought and the reasons for the change.

Family and domestic violence leave

On 26 March 2018, the Fair Work Commission decided to provide 5 days’ unpaid leave per year to almost all modern award covered employees (including casuals) experiencing domestic and family violence. The leave will be 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.

General Protections Dispute – Non–Termination Claim

Adverse action by an employer is unlawful if it is taken because of one or more protected grounds including ‘workplace rights’ and ‘family responsibilities’. See JobWatch’s ‘General Protections Dispute – Non-Termination Claim’ infosheet for more information.

Occupational Health and Safety

The effects of family and domestic violence could have implications for Occupational 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.

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’. For more information, please refer to JobWatch’s ‘Workplace Bullying’ infosheet.

General Protections Dispute – Termination Claim

It is also unlawful to terminate your employment because of a protected ground. You must file this claim at the Fair Work Commission within 21 days of the date your dismissal took effect. For more information, see JobWatch’s ‘General Protections Dispute – Termination Claim’ infosheet.

Unfair Dismissal

For a dismissal to be ‘unfair’, it must be considered either ‘harsh, unjust or unreasonable’ and not a case of genuine redundancy. A number of factors are taken into account in deciding this including whether there was a valid reason for your dismissal, whether there was procedural fairness and any other relevant matters. Family and domestic violence could be taken into account, weighing towards the dismissal being seen as ‘harsh’, particularly if the employer is aware that you are experiencing family and domestic violence. Additionally, family and domestic violence and related issues may not be a valid reason for dismissal in relation to your capacity or conduct at work.

For further support

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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