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Tips for talking to your manager about family and domestic violence 

Key takeaways 

  1. Your employer is legally required to protect your privacy and confidentiality.
  2. There are different ways your employer can help, including giving you leave and offering flexible work arrangements or putting in place steps to support your safety while you are at work. 
  3. They can only help you if you let them know what is going on.
  4. You do not have to tell your employer.
  5. You will remain in control of what happens next

If you are experiencing family and domestic violence, you might be thinking about whether or not to talk to your manager. 

It can be hard to decide to talk to your employer about family and domestic violence.  

  • You might be worried that your abuser will find out. 
  • You might feel: 
    • scared 
    • embarrassed 
    • ashamed. 

Remember, your employer is responsible for your safety while you are at work, so far as is reasonably practicable.  

You may wish to let your manager know that you are experiencing family and domestic violence and help them understand how it may be impacting you and what support could help.  

What other supports may be available to you?  

As well as paid FDV leave, you can ask:  

  • for flexible working arrangements – you can find more information by visiting Fair Work's Flexible working arrangements page
  • for support for your safety  
  • to take paid personal/carer’s leave or other leave 
  • to take unpaid personal/carer’s leave or other leave.  
Your employer is legally required to protect your privacy and confidentiality. For more information see the Respecting privacy and confidentiality page. 

Tips for talking to your manager about your experience of family and domestic violence: 

  • Ask for a meeting with your manager or a leader you trust. 
  • Bring a support person to the meeting if that helps. 
  • Meet in a private, safe space where you can’t be overheard. If you feel the space is not appropriate, suggest somewhere else or to go for a walk.  
  • Briefly explain the issues you are facing – it is up to you to decide how much detail or context to tell them. 
  • Tell them what you might need, including time off or flexibility in your work. You can use paid family and domestic violence leave (FDV leave). 
  • Tell them about anything that they need to know to help keep you safe – this might be details of an intervention order that restricts an individual from contacting you or entering your workplace. 
  • It is up to you to decide the right time to tell your employer, not them. 

If you ask for FDV leave, your manager may ask you for evidence, which can include things such as:  

  • documents issued by police or the court 
  • family violence support service documents 
  • statutory declarations 
  • documents issued by a doctor.  

Your manager needs to store any evidence that you provide securely and confidentially. 

If they ask for evidence and you don’t provide it, you might not be able to take the leave. 

To help you prepare you for, and gain confidence in, discussing sensitive topics you can complete the Fair Work Ombudsman's Difficult conversations in the workplace – employee course

You can find guidance further guidance in Fair Work's, An employee's guide to difficult conversations in the workplace resource. 

What to do if your manager approaches you 

If your manager asks you about family and domestic violence, how you respond is up to you. 

You can decide whether you share information about your experience of family and domestic violence with your employer. You cannot be forced to provide them with information.  

Telling you manager may help them to understand what is happening and more effectively support you.   

If you don’t want to share information, you can say “thank you for your concern, but I don’t want to talk about this with you”. 

You can change your mind and talk to them at another time. 

Want more information? 

You can find more information about FDV leave and other ways your employer can support on the What employees need to know page.

For further advice about your workplace rights or information about how to deal with workplace disputes, refer to the Fair Work Ombudsman and visit the Fair Work Ombudsman's Paid family and domestic leave page

Anyone affected by family and domestic violence is encouraged to contact 1800RESPECT, the national domestic, family and sexual violence counselling, information and support service. If you or someone you know is experiencing, or at risk of experiencing, domestic, family or sexual violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit 1800RESPECT.org.au. The service is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for information, counselling and referrals. 

Visit our Referral pathways for employees experiencing domestic violence page for more referral pathways.

For further advice on family and domestic violence see 1800RESPECT or call 1800 737 732.

For further advice about your workplace rights or information about how to deal with workplace disputes, refer to the Fair Work Ombudsman or call 13 13 94.