From the 1st August 2023 all employees, even employees of small businesses are entitled to 10 days of paid family and domestic violence leave.
I am completely in favour of this change, proactive action to support victims of domestic violence is positive and overdue. In my opinion, supporting small business by reducing their HR obligations was a shortsighted approach, governments need to find a better way, why should an employee be treated differently because they work for a small business?
However, the new regulations do bring obligations and challenges. Here are some of the changes we’ve made to ensure that this initiative is communicated and implemented safely:
1. Updated our employee onboarding and employee information
As a regular employer of casual employees Team Employment has an efficient and proceduralised system for employee onboarding. To ensure that the changes to family and domestic violence leave are fully communicated we have made the following change:
We include a short, clear and concise reference to Family and Domestic Violence Leave in our onboarding communications and empoyee handbook:
Your Family and Domestic Violence Leave entitlement.
We take it very seriously; you can access up to 10 days paid leave. We have ensured that it is available to you when you need it and that it handled with maximum secrecy and minimum administration requirements.
Your team leader has been instructed to contact our Payroll Administrator directly if you request this leave. Those two individuals are the only people who need to know that you are claiming this leave. When the payment for this leave is made it will be shown as normal pay on your payslip and on any company reports or communications.
If, for any reason, you are not comfortable with notifying your direct team leader please ask our payroll administrator to contact you <payroll admin email>. We will always handle any access to this leave with extreme secrecy.
To ensure that this message was heard and understood we conducted a ‘one on one’ meeting with each employee to notify them of their rights. Additionally, we have included a specific instruction to notify each employee verbally during every employee introduction.
2. Full alignment with HR and line managers
Team Employment supplies casual employees through labour hire arrangements. This means that our policies and procedures for family and domestic violence leave must extend into our client’s operations. Accordingly we ensured that client HR departments were aware of our operation and accepted their roles, specifically:
Client Family and Domestic Violence Leave obligations.
All communication on family and domestic violence leave procedures will be made through the client HR department. That department is trusted to ensure that agreed operation is maintained.
Client HR departments are tasked with communicating the required actions to their staff. The key message will be that a line manager responsible for any Team Employment employee will be specifically informed that they are expected to keep any request for this type of leave completely confidential and must comminicate directly with our payroll adminstrator regarding any request for or inquiry about family and domestic violence leave.
Whilst this action is written for our labour hire setting it also covers our direct employees as they are fully involved in the delivery of our service. The implemention of these procedures for larger in-house teams would need to follow the same pattern; your HR department needs to brief all line managers on their responsibilities for operating this leave.
3. Modification of payroll procedures
Our payroll manager has been asked to accept a special responsibility for the administration of family and domestic violence leave. She understands that she is trusted to manage the communication and payment for this leave in maximum confidentiality.
Our payroll administrator is fully informed of the regulations for this leave and has put inplace a specific procedure to follow if and when an employee claims their entitlement. The key requirements:
1. All inquiries about family and domestic violence leave are handled in complete confidence by our Payroll Manager.
2. All payments for family and domestic violence leave are shown as normal leave. Our payroll manager maintains a confidential record for all family and domestic violence leave payments and bears the sole responsibility to keep it accurate.
3. The only communication to management about this leave will be a record of total cost. This will never show specific employee payments.
This arrangement is now directly referenced in the job description for our payroll manager and is a mandatory responsiblity for this role.
4. Specific clauses included for paid family and domestic violence leave in all Labour Supply agreements
Family and domestic violence leave presents an unusual challenge for labour hire arrangements. Often a key reason for clients to engage labour hire suppliers is to achieve a uniform cost for provision of services. However, when a labour hire company meets it’s obligations for family and domestic violence leave it may need to pay an employee for time that cannot be invoiced to the client.
To accomodate this possibility we have included a new clause into our labour hire agreements:
Reimbursement of costs for family and domestic violence leave payments
Team Employment is required by law to provide up to 10 days of paid family and domestic violence leave to all employees including employees provided under this agreement.
Team employment has put in place procedures to meet this obligation. We must extend this obligation to you as part of this agreement. This will mean your acceptance of two clauses:
1. Your HR operation will agree to implement our family and domestic violence procedures for employees we supply.
2. You agree to accept ‘one off’ charges for reimbursment of family and domestic violence leave payments. This will be shown as a single charge and will not be detailed for specific employees on our invoice. The costs will be passed on without any additions, we will not charge for administration of this activity or add any margin.
We have decided to only pass on the actual cost. Team Employment will accept the responsiblity to meet it’s obligations, our clients will only be asked to reimburse actual costs if and when they occur.
I included this insight specifically because I believe that access to this leave for all employees is positive and fair, I want to ensure that all employers can find a way to meet this obligation including labour hire companies who face a special challenge.