30.07.2018

Domestic Violence – Victims’ Protection Act 2016

On 25 July 2018 the Domestic Violence – Victims’ Protection Bill passed its third reading in parliament. The resulting Domestic Violence – Victims’ Protection Act 2016 will come into force on 1 April 2019.

The Bill adopts the definition of domestic violence from the Domestic Violence Act 1995, which captures physical abuse, sexual abuse and psychological abuse, including intimidation, harassment, property damage, threats, financial and economic abuse, in a domestic relationship.

The Bill amends the Employment Relations Act 2000 to provide employees with a statutory right to make, or have made on their behalf, a request for a short-term variation of their working arrangement (including changes to the location and duties of work) if that person is affected by domestic violence.  It extends the definition of personal grievance to include adverse treatment of an employee affected by domestic violence.

The Bill also amends the Holidays Act 2003 to give an employee affected by domestic violence up to ten days’ domestic violence leave each year, and the Human Rights Act 1993 to make unlawful the adverse treatment in employment of anyone affected by domestic violence. 

The purposes of these amendments are to enhance protection in the workplace for persons affected by domestic violence and reduce the financial impact of domestic violence on victims.  Forecasted run-on benefits of these amendments include increases in employee productivity and retention by making the workplace a safer place for victims of domestic violence.

Initially, the Bill sought to amend the Domestic Violence Act 1995 (to define a victim of domestic violence as a person who is able to produce a domestic violence, i.e. a record of criminal proceedings, a police report) and the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (among other changes, to extend the definition of hazard). These amendments were removed from the final Bill.

The passing of the Bill spotlights an issue that has a far reaching impact and is often hidden in the shadows of workplaces.

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