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On 1 April, this Monday, New Zealand will join Canada and the Philippines in offering paid leave to employees who are affected by domestic violence.

In addition to providing these employees with up to 10 days' paid leave per year, the Domestic Violence - Victims' Protection Act 2018 will introduce an ability for employees to request short term flexible working arrangements. Through this process, an affected employee may access changes in their work location, duties, hours or contact details for up to two months.

The Act also prohibits the adverse treatment of employees on the basis that they are (or are suspected of being) affected by domestic violence. Even more care will now be required when considering employee performance or attendance issues which may be connected to domestic violence.

‘Domestic violence’ is broadly defined in the Domestic Violence Act 1995 as physical, sexual or psychological abuse inflicted within a domestic relationship. Both employees who experience, or who live with children who experience such abuse are eligible for the entitlements under the new Act.

Managing questions about proof of domestic violence, the protection of privacy, and the health and safety issues raised when these rights are exercised by employees will be far from straightforward.  If they have not already done so, employers should be reviewing and updating their policies to take into account the new rules, and ensure they are ready in practice to apply them. Our specialist team stands ready to assist – please do feel free to contact us.



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