Parliament recently passed the Domestic Violence - Victims' Protection Act 2018, to take effect on 1 April 2019. This new law grants employees affected by domestic violence up to 10 days' leave each year, and enables them to access short-term flexible working arrangements, such as changes to their work location, hours, duties, contact details and other arrangements. This article contains some background information and useful links for employers preparing to give effect to the changes and improve the support available to their staff.
New provisions:
  • It allows employees to take up to 10 days' domestic violence leave per year to deal with the effects of domestic violence. Employees need six months' continuous employment to be entitled to this leave (unless the employer wants to make it available from the start). The entitlement does not accrue from year to year. Proof can be requested to support the leave.
  • The Act provides for short-term flexible working arrangements for employees affected by domestic violence. It allows affected employees to request additional types of flexibility than is otherwise available, including changes to work location and duties.
  • Employees will have grounds for a personal grievance or a claim under the Human Rights Act 1993 if they have been treated adversely, on the grounds they are a person affected by domestic violence.

The Act is available to read here.
If you are an employer, you should start thinking now about how you will implement the entitlements and protections available to your staff under the Act. Some employers are making changes already by implementing training, policies and procedures to give effect to the Act's objectives, particularly around privacy issues. The Act raises a number of issues for employers to deal with, including managing privacy and confidentiality in highly sensitive situations, who  requests are made to and how, what information is recorded or shared and with whom, and what does it say on an employee's payslip when they take domestic violence leave? You may want to consider nominating a key contact person within your organisation to receive specialist training and who can sensitively manage the confidentiality of domestic violence information.
For help in developing a domestic violence policy for your workplace, there are multiple resources and a toolkit available from the Human Rights Commission. It includes advice and a ‘how-to guide’. Access toolkit.
Law firm Buddle Findlay has written a column on the new provisions here.

More detailed guidance is expected to be published soon by MBIE, which you can check back here.


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