I am an Employer

““With all you are already going through and have been through, it’s nice to have the support in place.” - client supported by their employer to attend family violence group programme

In April 2019, the New Zealand Government adopted the Domestic Violence Victims’ Protection Act in response to the country’s staggering family violence statistics. What does the Act actually mean for employers and their employees affected by violence?

What is the Domestic Violence – Victims’ Protection Act?

The Domestic Violence – Victims’ Protection Act adds legal protections in the workplace for people affected by domestic violence. It requires that workplaces allow victims of violence, and people supporting child victims of violence to take up to 10 days’ leave, work flexibly and not be treated adversely in the workplace.

How does the act define domestic violence?

Domestic violence is also known as family violence. It means all forms of violence in family and intimate relationships. Domestic violence can be physical, sexual or psychological abuse.

Who does the Act cover?

Employees who have been affected by domestic violence can take paid domestic violence leave if:

  • they have six months’ current continuous employment with the same employer, or
  • they have worked for the employer for six months for:
    • an average of 10 hours per week, and
    • at least one hour in every week or 40 hours in every month.

‘Affected by domestic violence’ means they are a victim of domestic violence, or they live with a child who is a victim/witness of domestic violence. It does not matter when the domestic violence took place. The Act covers people who experienced domestic violence before they began working for their current employer or before the law changed on 1 April 2019.


The Act does not cover:

  • people who use violence, and may (for example) need to move out of their home
  • people supporting someone (other than a child with whom they live) else affected by domestic violence
  • victims of a sexual assault/rape, that is not related to domestic violence

Note: the Act does not require employers to offer Domestic Violence Leave and flexible working arrangements to these people. However, that does not mean workplace policies shouldn’t include them.

What rights does the Act give to employees?

The Act gives employees affected by domestic violence the right to:

  • take at least 10 days of paid domestic violence leave. This is separate from annual leave, sick leave and bereavement leave. See Domestic violence leave rights and responsibilities.
  • ask for short-term flexible working arrangements. This can be for up to 2 months.
  • not be treated adversely in the workplace because they might have experienced domestic violence. This is discrimination. 
Do employers have to ask for evidence of domestic violence?

No. The Act gives employers the right to ask for evidence, but it does not require it. Although a high-risk situation may have a police report attached, most of the violence taking place today will never come to the attention of the police or professional services. Someone experiencing violence may not have “proof” to give, and this doesn’t mean they don’t need to take leave.

How can employers create a safe and inclusive working environment?

There’s no one way to do this, but here are some practical suggestions:

  • Include a confidentiality clause in your Domestic Violence Policy, that limits knowledge of an individual’s situation to their manager and payroll – although the Act does not require it, a fear of their situation being shared could discourage people from coming forward.
  • Be flexible – allow people to put their request through to whomever they feel most comfortable with
  • Have information on hand to be able to support people. Check out some of our other pages - such as How To Help, Legal Information, Relationship Check, Adult Services and Resources. Or pick up the phone – we’re here to help.

Aviva also runs Let’s Talk/Me Korero workshops, which aim to help workplaces have conversations about family and sexual violence. For more information, visit this page.

How can I support Aviva?

There are lots of ways you or your workplace can support Aviva's fundraising efforts. If you would like to make a one-off donation, visit this page, or contact community@avivafamilies.org.nz

If you'd like to get more involved, you could  organise a fundraiser, join our fundraising committee, or become a corporate sponsor. Get in touch with community@avivafamilies.org.nz to find out more. 

Need more information?

Visit https://www.employment.govt.nz/leave-and-holidays/domestic-violence-leave/

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