The Domestic Violence – Victim’s Protection Act 2018 came into force on Monday 1 April 2019. The intent of the Act is to recognise the impact that domestic violence can have on employees (and their families) and provide increased workplace protections and support/flexibility for workers who are affected by current or historical domestic violence.
Some of the changes introduced by the Act include allowing employees affected by domestic violence to request short – term changes to their working arrangements, and to take up to ten days “domestic violence leave” per year.
Employees will also be able to raise a personal grievance or bring a claim under the Human Rights Act if they feel they have been adversely treated in their employment on the grounds that they are, or are suspected, assumed or believed to be, a person affected by domestic violence.
Given the sorry state of domestic violence rates in New Zealand, these changes will potentially affect a significant number of employers and their employees.
All employers need to know their obligations under the Act. Some employers are choosing to update their employment agreement templates and / or adopt employment policies incorporating the entitlements and requirements set out in the Act. Those steps can be helpful (and we are happy to assist with this work), but they aren’t essential.
What is important is that employers (and, in particular, line managers) understand what they have to do if they receive a request, and how quickly they have to do it. Larger businesses should have a person who has access to detailed information about what has to happen, and managers should know to refer all requests to them.
We have prepared an information sheet for employers setting out what the Act requires. This will be a useful resource for managers / supervisors, and can be downloaded here. We have also prepared an information sheet that can be provided to employees who want to know what they are and aren’t entitled to under the new Act (here).
For more information or for assistance please contact our employment law team.