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Another Imposition On Employers

June 2019

Complying with the Domestic Violence – Victims Protection Act 2018

 

New Zealand has one of the highest rates of Family Violence in the developed world. Over 500,000 New Zealanders are estimated to be victims of Domestic Violence, and 40% of these – approximately 200,000 people – are in paid employment. 

 

For victims, the effects of Family Violence are devastating. For employers, this can mean that employees affected by Family Violence are less productive, take more sick leave and their performance is often affected. These factors cost businesses an estimated $328 million annually in New Zealand (as of 2014).

 

However, for people who are victims of Family Violence, employment can provide an escape from their personal life, an opportunity to feel “normal” and escape controlling and abusive behaviour by a partner. Absences and lower productivity are costly to employers, but are often not intentional, and are negative side effects of Family Violence. An employer who responds appropriately and provides support for an employee who is affected by Family Violence may elicit loyalty in staff, and in turn can increase productivity as a result. 

 

The Domestic Violence – Victim’s Protection Act 2018 aims to address these issues. As of 1 April 2019, there are now legal requirements for all employers:

  • to provide support to employees who are affected by Family Violence; 
  • to ensure that policies are in place to assist employer managers with providing this support;
  • to provide for “Domestic Violence Leave”, which is a new statutory leave requirement in addition to sick leave and bereavement leave;
  • to advise all employees of these statutory changes, which will affect Employment Contracts for new staff. 

 

The legislation addresses the fact that Family Violence already affects businesses financially and provides a structure for employers to support their employees appropriately. The new legislation also brings in amendments to the Employment Relations Act 2000, the Holidays Act 2003 and the Human Rights Act 1993. 

 

In particular, the Holidays Act has been amended to provide:

  • a person affected by domestic violence includes both the employee and the employee’s child or children;
  • the domestic violence concerned can have occurred prior to the employee commencing employment;
  • the entitlement to domestic violence leave commences after 6 months current continuous employment; and 
  • the duration of domestic violence leave is 10 days in each 12 month period of employment.

 

It is important that all employers are up to date with these changes and new requirements in order to ensure that they remain compliant with Employment Law requirements. We can assist your business to ensure that your policies and employment contracts are up date and compliant with the new requirements in respect of the Domestic Violence – Victim’s Protection Act 2018. We can provide advice on the specific requirements of the new legislation and provide straightforward guidance on how these changes can be implemented in your business, including advice on drafting Family Violence policies and updating Employment Contracts for new employees.