The Domestic Violence – Victims’ Protection Bill (“the Bill”) was passed in the New Zealand Parliament on 25 July 2018. The Bill provides the following enhanced legal protection to employees who are affected by domestic violence (victims and carers of children who are victims):
- The right to take up to 10 days paid domestic violence leave per year after 6 months’ continuous employment, in order to deal with the effects of domestic violence; and
- The right to request in writing a short-term variation (up to two months) to their working arrangements and to receive a response from their employer within 10 working days; and
- The right not to be treated adversely by a prospective or existing employer on the grounds that they are, or are suspected to be, a person affected by domestic violence.
The right for such employees to request a short-term variation of working arrangements provided in the Bill, includes the right to request changes to hours of work, location and duties. The process for making such a request is similar to the existing statutory rights employees have in New Zealand to make a written flexible work application. In addition, if an employee believes that their employer has unreasonably refused a request for a variation in working arrangements, an employee has 6 months in which to dispute this.
The Bill was proposed as a commitment in New Zealand to early intervention and prevention of the effect of domestic violence at work and will come into force on 1 April 2019.