The Domestic Violence-Victims’ Protection Act came into effect on 1 April 2019. It aims to enhance legal protections in the workplace for people affected by domestic violence.
This is a significant piece of legislation reaching across the Employment Relations Act 2000, the Holidays Act 2003 and the Human Rights Act 1993. All companies are required to have a comprehensive policy which provides the necessary support to the affected family member (employee) and responds to the payroll, privacy and employer obligations required by this bill.
Similar to sick leave, once an employee has been employed with an employer for 6 months of continuous employment, the employee becomes entitled to up to 10 days (per annum) of paid domestic violence leave. This entitlement is not cumulative and does not roll over after each 12 months following entitlement.
This entitlement is not payable upon termination. The purpose of this leave is to allow an employee to deal with the effects of domestic violence.
It is important to note, an employee may make a request irrespective of when (or how long ago) the domestic violence event occurred and regardless of whether the employee was employed by you (as the employer) at that time.
If an employee is impacted by domestic violence, they can request leave or make a request to temporarily variation to their working arrangements for a period of up to two months with the intent of dealing with the effects of domestic violence.
MBIE states ‘The law also explicitly prohibits an employee being treated adversely in their employment on the grounds that they are, or are suspected to be, a person affected by domestic violence’.
An employer may require proof of domestic violence prior to paying domestic violence leave or making changes to their working arrangements. There are grounds upon which leave and/or flexible working arrangements can be denied. We will draft further communication around this as these details become available.
Where employment agreements specify the types of leave available to employees, a provision will need to be included identifying the entitlement to domestic violence leave. Employers should also consider updating their ‘flexible working arrangements’ policies to reflect the changes to legislation.
It is our view that Employers should be proactive and communicative with their employees in agreeing to leave arrangements when a request is made. Ideally, employers will be discussing how much leave is requested, whether the employee anticipates taking more leave in the future and whether there is any other support or assistance that the employer can provide.
Employers also require a “Victim Protection” policy. This should outline the mechanisms for the application of domestic violence leave and ensures that the employee is adequately supported through the process and maintains dignity and privacy. The policy will identify who has access to information regarding the employee’s status and payroll information specifically related to these matters.
Your payroll system may also need to be updated to ensure that entitlements are available and calculated appropriately for those employees accessing the leave.
A Victim Protection Policy is essential, and should cover the following four areas:
- The Victims’ Protection Act – Overview (explained in clear easy to understand terms)
- Domestic Violence Leave Policy
- Domestic Violence Workplace safety plan
- Domestic Violence Disclosure guide
Call us to talk this through
Call us on 0800 HRtoolkit (0800 47 86 65) to discuss getting a policy for your workplace.