Domestic Violence – Victims Protection Bill
General / 26 September 2018
In March 2017 we wrote an article about the proposed Victim’s Protection Bill (Bill), which has now passed its second reading in Parliament. This was a particularly important stage in the process as the Select Committee were unable to agree on whether the bill, as it was initially proposed, should proceed, but after consideration by the Committee of the whole house on 27 June 2018 and passed its third reading on 25 June 2018.
Key changes to the initial Bill include incorporating three proposed changes to the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015:
- To included in the definition of “hazard”, a person’s behaviour where it could cause harm, where that behaviour is because a person is inflicting domestic violence or is the victim of domestic violence;
- To require PCBUs to have a policy on dealing with domestic violence; and
- To require PCBUs to train health and safety representatives to support workers who are victims of domestic violence.
From 1 April 2019, employers will be required to provide 10 days of paid leave a year to the victims of domestic violence or for those caring for children who are victims of domestic violence. These same employees will also be able to request short term variations to their working arrangements of no longer than two months.
Employers will need to ensure decision makers are aware and educated in the changes. Employers will need to review various policies including leave and bullying and harassment policies. Consideration should be given to implementing a domestic violence policy which we recommend includes a requirement for proof of domestic violence and updating of health and safety management plans to include identification of domestic violence as a risk should also be undertaken. Payroll systems will also be another area which will need review to ensure that domestic violence leave is included.
The Human Rights Commission, in conjunction with a number of large employers, has developed a draft domestic violence policy for employers, available here www.businessworkingtoendfamilyviolence.co.nz. The website also offers additional educational resources to assist employers.
If you need advice on domestic violence policies and reducing the hazard caused by domestic violence, or with updating other relevant polices please contact us.
Disclaimer: We remind you that while this article provides commentary on employment law and health and safety topics, it should not be used as a substitute for legal or professional advice for specific situations. Please seek legal advice from your lawyer for any questions specific to your workplace.