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New Legal Protections for Employees Affected by Domestic Violence

Shelley Yeates
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From 1 April 2019, people affected by domestic violence have new protections in the workplace.  They now have the right to:

  • Take at least 10 days paid domestic violence leave each year (this is separate from annual, sick or bereavement leave),

  • Ask for short term flexible working arrangements (lasting up to two months),

  • Not be treated adversely in the workplace because they might have experienced domestic violence.

 

You don’t have to change existing Employment Agreements for this as the Domestic Violence Leave is law and therefore cannot be contracted out of.  However, we strongly recommend employers have a policy in place to outline the rules and protections for all parties should a domestic violence situation occur with an employee. 

 

Employers have the right to ask for proof if an employee requests domestic violence leave or short term flexible working arrangements.  The law does not state what kind of proof is acceptable and the employer can accept any type.  Getting proof may not be simple, but examples may include:

  • a letter or email about the situation from either a support organisation or support person,

  • a report from a doctor or nurse, or from a school,

  • court or police documents,

  • a declaration (letter of evidence witnessed by an authorised person like a justice of the peace).

 

The Employment New Zealand website (www.employment.govt.nz) has a lot of good information on the new law and also has a ‘Family Violence Policy Builder’ which will assist you to develop your own policy.

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