Paid leave for family harm victims approved

Venkat Raman

Employees affected by family harm – commonly known as family violence or domestic violence – can claim paid leave up to ten days when a proposed bill becomes law.

The New Zealand Parliament passed ‘The Domestic Violence-Violence Protection Bill’ on July 26, 2018, which will enhance legal protection in the workplace for people affected by family harm. The Private Member’s Bill will come into effect on April 1, 2019.

The new Statute entitles employees affected by domestic violence to up to 10 days of paid ‘Domestic Violence’ leave per year, to deal with the effects of family harm.

Leave when needed

Employees will be able to take this leave as needed – similar to the existing sick leave and bereavement leave provisions.

They will also be able to request a short-term variation to their working arrangements (up to two months or shorter) to which the employer must respond to urgently and within 10 working days. The variation can include changes to hours of work, location and duties of work.

This is similar, and in addition to, the existing rights employees have to make a flexible working request.

Protection to employees

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.

Employees will be able to raise a dispute if they believe that their employer unreasonably refused a request made under the new provisions, and must do so within six months.

In the run-up to the commencement date of the Law, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment will provide further advice through its websites: www.business.govt.nz and www.employment.govt.nz

Additional Reading: Our Leader, ‘Victims of Family Harm must speak out’ under Viewlink.

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Photo Caption: This Campaign of Families Commission sent a powerful message against Family Harm

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