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New law helps people affected by domestic violence

The Domestic Violence — Victims’ Protection Act 2018, which was passed into law last July, comes into effect on 1 April 2019. This new law introduces paid leave for employees affected by domestic violence, so that they can deal with its effects.

Domestic violence leave is additional to other leave

Under the new law, an employee who’s been subjected to domestic violence can request paid leave from their employer — up to 10 days per year. This leave is separate from annual, sick, and bereavement leave.

The new law also allows employees to request short-term flexible working arrangements as they recover from domestic violence. This applies even if the domestic violence occurred before a person became an employee, as the effects of violence can be long lasting.

Asking for proof

The Act helps victims stay in paid employment

The new Act aims to support victims of domestic violence to stay in paid employment, which is seen as a critical step to limiting the effects of this violence.

The Act also aims to improve legal protection in the workplace for people who have been subjected to domestic violence. This extra protection ensures victims aren’t disadvantaged because of what’s happened to them.

Having safe and supported employees is good for business. Creating a supportive work environment can help improve productivity and employee morale.

“For many victims, the workplace is one of the only safe places that they can go to for support.”

“For many victims, the workplace is one of the only safe places that they can go to for support.”

Saunoamaali’i Dr Karanina Sumeo — Equal Employment Opportunities and Women’s Rights Commissioner

What is domestic violence and who does it affect?

Domestic violence includes physical, sexual and psychological abuse (such as intimidation, harassment, damage to property, threats of abuse, and financial or economic abuse). It includes abuse by a partner, another family member, or an ex. It can affect people of any gender, age, ethnicity or sexual orientation.

A person affected by domestic violence is one or both of the following:

  • Someone who is or has been the victim of domestic violence.
  • Someone who lives with a child who is or has been the victim of domestic violence.

Domestic violence is a human rights issue

“Violence against women is one of New Zealand's leading human rights issues,” says Saunoamaali’i Dr Karanina Sumeo, Equal Employment Opportunities and Women’s Rights Commissioner. “We will realise true dignity as a nation when the violation of our girls and women ends.”

Discrimination against employees or job applicants who are survivors of domestic violence is also considered a human rights issue.

Key facts for employers

  • When the Domestic Violence — Victims’ Protection Act 2018 comes into effect, it will be unlawful for employers to discriminate against employees or job applicants because they are victims or survivors of domestic violence. Employees can go to the Human Rights Commission (external link) or Employment NZ website (external link) if they feel an employer has discriminated against them.
  • People affected by domestic violence, who have worked in their job for six months, can claim up to 10 days of paid leave per year. They can also request flexible working arrangements. Employers need to consider these applications for leave or flexible work.
  • Employers have a responsibility under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 to provide a safe workplace. This includes protection for people affected by domestic violence.
Do you have more questions about the Domestic Violence — Victims’ Protection Act 2018?

Do you have more questions about the Domestic Violence — Victims’ Protection Act 2018?

Visit the Workplace Policy Builder to design a policy that complies with the new Act.

Workplace Policy Builder (external link)

Visit employment.govt.nz (external link) or call Employment New Zealand toll free on 0800 20 90 20.

If you have a question about discrimination in employment, contact the Human Rights Commission (external link) on 0800 496 877, or email infoline@hrc.co.nz

 

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