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14 February 2019

How this may affect your business & what you need to know

#FACT New Zealand police respond to 270 domestic violence incidents every day and it’s estimated that’s only the tip of the iceberg – with 80% of incidents going unreported.

#FACT Did you know domestic violence already costs New Zealand workplaces at least $368 million a year due to higher turnover and lost productivity? Addressing the problem directly will be better for business and victims of domestic abuse.

Imagine trying to work while juggling court, counselling, and your family’s needs following a domestic violence incident. This is the situation for thousands of Kiwis, but it’s set to improve with the new Domestic Violence – Victims’ Protection Bill coming into effect on 1 April. The law enables people affected by family violence to apply for specific leave and flexible working arrangements to help them keep their jobs during a challenging time.

What does this mean for you?

Local companies such as Countdown, The Warehouse and ANZ already offer domestic violence leave – and it’s time for the rest of the country to follow suit. As an employer, you need to be aware of what leave and flexible working arrangements victims of domestic abuse are entitled to, what you have to do, and how to support your staff.

10 days’ domestic violence leave

Employees will be able to apply for up to 10 days’ domestic violence leave per year to deal with the effects of domestic violence, such as court appearances, doctor visits and looking after children.

Employees need six months’ continuous employment to be entitled to this leave and entitlement does not accrue from year to year.

Staff don’t need to provide proof they have been affected by domestic violence, but employers can ask for proof before agreeing to the request.

If an employee fails, without reasonable excuse, to provide proof, their employer isn’t required to pay for any domestic violence leave.

More flexibility at work

To support staff affected by family violence, you are required to provide flexible working conditions, such as changes to:

  • The location of their workplace

  • Their duties at work

  • The extent of contact details the employee must provide to their employer

  • Any other term of employment that needs variation to enable the employee to deal with the effects of domestic violence.

Stay open-minded and make a plan

Now’s the time to think about how you’ll approach requests for domestic violence leave. It’s a good idea to put together a practical plan to ensure you respect and protect your staff members’ privacy throughout the process. Keep in mind you could get requests for leave for a range of reasons including physical, sexual and psychological abuse, harassment, threats, intimidation and financial abuse. If you need help putting together a plan, please call us.

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