Domestic violence victims' workplace protections legislation comes into effect 1 April

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The Domestic Violence—Victims' Protection Act 2018 comes into effect on 1 April 2019.

The Act amends the Holidays Act 2003, Employment Relations Act 2000 and Human Rights Act 1993.

The legislation gives victims of domestic violence additional employment rights and gives employers additional responsibilities. These changes include:

  • Employees who are victims of domestic violence can access up to 10 days of paid leave separate from any other form of leave under the Holidays Act 2003.
  • Employees who are victims of domestic violence can request a short-term working variation to their working arrangement which could include changes to hours of work, location and duties of work.
  • The law prohibits an employee from being treated adversely in their employment on the grounds that they are, or are suspected to be, a person affected by domestic violence.
  • Employees will be able to raise a dispute if they believe their employer unreasonably refused a request made under the new provisions.

The Human Rights Commission provides an Introduction to Family violence, Human Rights, and other law.

For background information about the legislation see our previous news story Legislation on workplace protections for domestic violence victims passes.

Resources, training, policies and advice for employers and workplaces

Previous versions of the legislation considered mandatory workplace policies related to domestic violence, but this was not included in the final legislation. Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety Iain Lees-Galloway said:

“It’s good for employers to have a family violence policy so that staff and managers know what to expect, and how to respond if their colleagues are affected by violence. For example, temporarily changing a person’s work schedule can help protect them and their co-workers from abusive calls, emails or visits.”

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment has an online Workplace Policy Builder tool that includes a family violence policy. The tool provides a step by step guide to create policies for your workplace. 

The Human Rights Commission and several New Zealand employers launched the website www.businessworkingtoendfamilyviolence.co.nz in 2018. While the policy template and toolkit do not reflect the new legislation, the website provides helpful research and advice.

The organisations listed below also provide support and templates to help with developing policies.

Shine's DVFREE offers a range of services including consulting on policy development, awareness raising activity and training for staff.

Women's Refuge's Responsive Workplaces offers consultation, advice, support, guidance, and expert knowledge to assist organisations to develop policies.

White Ribbon has a Business Accreditation programme that involves policy, training and participation in violence prevention. 

The It's Not OK campaign provides resources and information for businesses on supporting victims and responding to perpetrators.

Related media

Domestic violence leave a great relief, Press Release: First Union, Scoop, 04.04.2019

Don’t be the employer that asks for proof of domestic violence, The Spinoff, 01.04.2019

Domestic violence leave no problem, employers say, Newshub, 01.04.2019

Business has a role preventing violence, Press Release – White Ribbon, Scoop, 01.04.2019

Law changes for domestic violence survivors, Press Release: New Zealand Council of Trade Unions, Scoop, 31.03.2019

New law change for domestic violence survivors, Māori Television, 31.03.2019

How new domestic violence laws will change the workplace, NZ Herald, 25.03.2019

Law supporting domestic violence victims start of new employment era: lawyer, Stuff, 18.03.2019

Vodafone NZ inspires domestic violence policy, Press Release: Vodafone, Scoop, 08.03.2019

World Bank report shows NZ lagging behind world leaders on gender equality laws, NZ Herald, 08.03.2019

It's time to end the secrecy over unequal pay, Stuff, 08.03.2019

How to be a better boss for victims of domestic violence, Stuff, 06.03.2019

Stuff gets DVFREE accredited and stands up against violence, Press Release: Stuff, Scoop, 05.03.2019