The Domestic Violence – Victims’ Protection Act adds legal protections in the workplace for people affected by domestic violence.
The Act gives employees affected by domestic violence the rights to:
- get paid domestic violence leave
- ask for short-term flexible working
- not be treated badly at work because they might be affected by domestic violence.
- These rights do not apply to people who carry out domestic violence. In other words, people who are violent or abusive to someone they’re in a family or domestic relationship with.
Who can get paid leave
Employees can take paid domestic violence leave if they have worked for their employer for at least 6 months or meet one of the following conditions. These are:
- the employment has continued for 6 months
- during those 6 months they have worked for at least an average of 10 hours a week.
During this time, the employee must have worked either: – 1 hour each week – 40 hours each month. These are the same conditions for getting sick leave and bereavement leave. Employees can take domestic violence leave when they need it, as with sick leave and bereavement leave. They get the right to at least 10 days of new domestic violence leave each year if they still meet the conditions above – the ‘hours worked’ test
Proof of domestic violence
If an employee takes domestic violence leave or asks for short-term flexible working arrangements, their employer can ask for proof.
This proof should show the employee is affected by domestic violence. The law does not state what kind of proof an employer can accept. If the employer asks for proof, the employer and employee should both act in good faith. That means being open, honest and quick to respond.
Employers can accept any type of proof that an employee is affected by domestic violence.
Proof for domestic violence leave If the employer asks for proof but does not get it, they do not need to pay the employee until they get proof, unless the employee has a ‘reasonable excuse’.
An example of a ‘reasonable excuse’ could be that the employee had to move home quickly and has not had time to get proof.
Proof for short-term flexible working If the employer wants proof, they must ask for it within 3 working days of getting the request for short-term flexible working arrangements. As they must reply in writing within 10 days, this gives enough time for both the:
- employee to get proof
- employer to respond.
If the employee doesn’t give proof when asked, their employer may refuse their request for short-term flexible working. The employer can say no to the request until the employee gives them proof.
Getting proof may not be simple, given the nature of domestic violence. Domestic violence often takes place behind closed doors, making it hard to ‘prove’. Ringing police or applying for a protection order are usually very big steps for someone affected by domestic violence.
Examples of proof
- Letter or email about what’s going on and how it affects the employee from either a: – support organisation – for example, a domestic violence support service or Oranga Tamariki. – support person.
- Report from a doctor or nurse.
- Report from a school.
- A declaration – a letter of evidence witnessed by an authorised person like a justice of the peace under the Oaths and Declarations Act 1957.
- Any court or police documents about the domestic violence.