Bill to protect domestic violence victims - 1 April 2019 introduction

It’s reported that NZ has one of the worst rates of family and intimate-partner violence in the world. It affects individuals, families, workplaces and communities. 

On 26 July 2018 the Domestic Violence – Victims’ Protection Bill passed its third reading in Parliament. It is set to become legislation, coming into force on 1 April 2019.

One of the proposed changes is entitlement of up to 10 days leave annually, for victims to deal with the consequences of domestic violence (additional to holiday or sick leave entitlements). This Bill is a great step forward in how we deal with and think about domestic violence, however, there will be complexities around implementation of these changes for both victims' and employers. Additionally, there is the cost for organisations to consider of which small to medium organisations may feel most.

Why has this Bill been introduced?

  • Support victims to stay within paid employment

  • Assist with secure and stable employment

  • Enhance victims’ domestic and economic stability

  • Increase the likelihood of victims successfully moving on with their lives.

What are the aims of the Bill?

The Bill proposes to amend three Acts with an aim to improve legal protection for victims of domestic violence. The Acts are:

  1. Employment Relations Act 2000 (ERA)

  2. Holidays Act 2003 (HA)

  3. Human Rights Act 1993 (HRA)

What are the proposed changes?

  • Introduce short-term flexible working arrangements for employees who are victims of domestic violence in the ERA;

  • Change the ERA and HRA to make it unlawful to negatively treat employees who are victims of domestic violence; and

  • Introduce paid domestic violence leave (up to 10 days annually) under the HA.

What does this mean for my business?

Organisations will be required to make changes to ensure that victims of domestic violence are suitably protected in their employment. You will need to be prepared for a 1 April 2019 introduction. This includes:

  • Updating employment contracts to outline this entitlement

  • Updating flexible working arrangement policies

  • Updating payroll systems to enable entitlements to be processed

  • Ensuring workplace practices are reviewed so that victims of domestic violence are not treated adversely.

Some organisations might like to (and some already do) offer additional support such as paying for counselling, offering alternative place(s) of work, training staff to support victims, or offering victims further time off work.

Click here to read the bill in the current form.

If you would like to discuss how this will affect your business, or you would like advice/assistance with implementing these requirements for your business, please get in touch with us on karyn@hrassociate.co.nz or 0211814849.