UPDATE Domestic Violence – Victim’s Protection Act 2018
General, Acts / 25 September 2018
The Domestic Violence – Victim’s Protection Act 2018 (Act) will come into force on 1 April 2019, directly impacting the Employment Relations Act 2000, the Holidays Act 2003 (HA) and the Human Rights Act 1993 (HRA)
Employers will be required to provide 10 days of paid leave a year to the victims of domestic violence or for those caring for children who are victims of domestic violence. Such employees will also be able to request short term variations to their working arrangements, of no longer than two months. The definition of domestic violence includes physical, sexual and psychological abuse in a past or current domestic relationship.
The Act includes continuous service requirements before the entitlement arises, in the same way as for sick and bereavement leave entitlements. Employees will have to advise employers of their intention to take this type of leave and they may be expected to provide evidence of the domestic violence eg a Police report.
Employees will have grounds for a personal grievance or a claim under the HRA if they are treated adversely because they are person affected (or suspected or assumed to be affected) by domestic violence (including which occurred historically).
Proposed changes to the HSWA including varying the definition of “hazard” to include reference to domestic violence, requiring PCBUs to have a policy on dealing with domestic violence and to train health and safety representatives to support workers who are victims of domestic violence have not been included in the Act.
What does this mean for employers?
Employers will need to ensure decision makers are aware and educated in the changes, and will need to review various policies including leave policies. Consideration should be given to implementing a separate domestic violence policy which we recommend includes a requirement for proof of domestic violence. Payroll systems will also be another area which will need review to ensure that domestic violence leave is included.
The Human Rights Commission, in conjunction with a number of large employers, has developed a draft domestic violence policy for employers, available here www.businessworkingtoendfamilyviolence.co.nz The website also offers additional educational resources to assist employers.
Given it is a legal requirement to ensure employees are aware of their minimum HA entitlements at the beginning of the employment relationship, individual employment agreements should be amended to refer to domestic violence leave. If you need help to update your agreement, or with drafting domestic violence policies please contact us.
Disclaimer: We remind you that while this article provides commentary on employment law and health and safety topics, it should not be used as a substitute for legal or professional advice for specific situations. Please seek legal advice from your lawyer for any questions specific to your workplace.