New Law: Domestic Violence Leave – Know Your Obligations

August 14th, 2019 - Barbara Buckett

The Domestic Violence-Victims’ Protection Act 2018 came into force on 1 April 2019. The most notable changes to the law are employees’ entitlements to paid family violence leave and the right of employees to request (and have employers consider) short-term flexible working due to family violence.


What is family violence leave?

Employees are entitled to 10 days’ paid family violence leave for each 12-month period in addition to existing leave.

(Holidays Act 2003 sections 72H-72I)

When are employees entitled to take family violence leave?

When an employee or a child who resides with an employee is affected by family violence, regardless of how long ago the family violence occurred.

(Holidays Act sections 72B(1), 72C)


That employee has been employed for over six months, which means either:

a.     He/she has completed six months’ current continuous employment,


b.     He/she has worked at least an average of 10 hours a week over the past six months, with no less than one hour every week in that period or no less than 40 hours in every month in that period.

(Holidays Act sections 72D)

What are the employee’s obligations?

Employees intending to take family violence leave must notify their employer of that intention as soon as is practicable.

(Holidays Act section 72E)

Employees must provide proo f that they are affected by family violence if the employer makes a request within 3 days.

(Holidays Act section 72G)

The type of proof required is not stated by law and will depend on the circumstances. Some examples listed by Employment New Zealand include:

– Correspondence from a support person or support organisation

– A doctor’s report

– A school report

– A declaration- a letter of evidence witnessed by an authorised person (such as a Justice of the Peace)

– Court or Police documents.


What is Short Term Flexible Working?

A short-term (two months or less) variation of their working arrangements for employees affected by family violence (regardless of how long ago the family violence occurred.)

(Employment Relations Act, section 69AB)

How must an Employee Request Short Term Flexible Working?

An employee who is a person affected by family violence may make a request at any time.

(Employment Relations Act, section 69ABB)

Requests must be made in writing and include:

– Employee’s name

– Date on which the request is made

– A statement that the request is made under Part 6AB of the Employment Relations Act

– Specify the variations of working arrangements requested and the period of time (including proposed start and end dates)

– Specify how, in the employee’s view, the variation will assist the employee to deal with the effects of being a person affected by family violence

– Explain what changes, if any, the employer may need to make to the employer’s arrangements if the employee’s request is approved.

(Employment Relations Act section, 69ABC)

To provide proof that they are a person affected by family violence if required by the employer.

(Employment Relations Act section, 69ABEA)

What are the Employer’s Obligations?

To deal with a request as soon as possible, but not later than 10 working days after receipt. And to notify the employee of the decision in writing, which must also:

– Provide the employee with information about specialist family violence support services.

– The grounds of refusal, if applicable.

(Employment Relations Act, section 69ABE)

When may an Employer Refuse?

When an employee has not provided proof that they are a person affected by family violence within 10 days of a request.

(Employment Relations Act, section 69ABF)

If the request cannot be accommodated reasonably due to:

– An inability to reorganise work or recruit additional staff

– A detrimental impact on quality/performance/ability to meet customer demand

– Planned structural changes

– The burden of additional costs

(Employment Relations Act, section 69ABF)

If you are unsure, or have any further questions, do not hesitate to seek advice from BuckettLaw. 

If you require guidance or policies in respect of the issues raised in this article,contact BuckettLaw on 04 482 7600 or reception@buckettlaw.co.nz

Note: BuckettLaw takes no responsibility for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of our articles. Any views expressed or comments made in an article are the writers option only. The content in our articles does not constitute legal advice. If you need legal or expert advice you should obtain specific advice about your case or matter from a professional. For legal advice based on your individual situation please contact us to speak with one of our expert lawyers.

Enjoy a complimentary 15-minute phone call as a first-time offer.

Barbara Buckett

Barbara Buckett is a highly experienced senior employment lawyer with over 35 years of practice in New Zealand. She provides expert advice on all areas of employment law and has a proven track record of delivering excellent results for clients. Barbara has extensive experience in resolving workplace issues and is an experienced litigator. In her free time, she enjoys reading, traveling, working out, and fine wine and dining with friends.

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