Domestic Violence – Victims’ Protection Bill passing through Parliament

The Domestic Violence – Victims’ Protection Bill (Bill) is due to have its third reading in Parliament before receiving the royal assent and becoming law.  The Bill aims to enhance legal protection for victims of domestic violence and removes barriers of discrimination.

Domestic violence is a significant problem in New Zealand and requires a major society-wide response in order to defeat this issue.  The Bill acknowledges the harm experienced by victims as well as the flow-over consequences it can create in the workplace.  Domestic violence has an overarching effect on a victim’s life and the Bill treats domestic violence as a fundamental hazard in the workplace.

This Bill is an omnibus Bill, amending the Domestic Violence Act 1995 (DVA), Employment Relations Act 2000 (ERA), Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (HSWA), Holidays Act 2003 (HA), and Human Rights Act 1993 (HRA).

The Bill provides victims with a pathway to safety and protects them from the effects of abuse in the workplace by providing up 10 days’ leave every year, which can be used to cover time lost through injury or other impacts of the abuse. It can also be used for counselling, moving house, settling kids into a new school, dealing with the Family Court, or safety planning.  It also clarifies that victims can request flexible working arrangements to minimise the impact of the abuse outside or in the workplace, that domestic violence is a workplace hazard, and that employers should create the environment to be able to identify and mitigate it. It also adds being a victim of domestic violence as grounds for non-discrimination to the HRA so victims cannot be dismissed or otherwise penalised for the behaviour of their abuser.

Arguably the greatest consequence of the Bill is the health and safety requirement to protect employees against hazards and harmful conduct.  As far as reasonably practicable, employers must not expose their workers to hazards or potential risks.  It is anticipated new policies will be implemented to identify what domestic violence is and how businesses can support victims.  Policies will also need to include how to manage the risks to workers from domestic violence and ensure health and safety representatives obtain necessary training to enable them to best handle foreseeable instances.

Workplace Law team

If you have any queries in respect of the above, or any other Workplace Law issues, please contact a member of Lane Neave’s Workplace Law team:

Employment: Andrew Shaw, Fiona McMillan, Gwen DrewittMaria Green,  Hannah Martin, Joseph HarropHolly StruckmanAlex Beal, Giuliana Petronelli, Abby Shieh
Immigration: Mark Williams, Rachael Mason, Daniel Kruger, Nicky Robertson, Julia StrickettKen Huang, Mary Zhou, Shi Sheng Cai (Shoosh)Sarah Kirkwood, Janeske SchutteLingbo Yu
ACC: Andrew Shaw
Health and Safety: Andrew ShawFiona McMillan

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