Managing family violence leave

Eligible employees are entitled to up to 10 days of paid leave each year if they, or a child who lives with them, experience family violence. They can also request short-term flexible working arrangements at any time.

What an employee is entitled to

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

  • they have worked for you continuously for at least 6 months, or
  • they have worked for you for 6 months at any time for:
    • an average of 10 hours per week, and
    • at least 1 hour in every week or 40 hours in every month.

They can take this leave if:

  • they have experienced family violence themselves
  • a child who has experienced family violence lives with them, even if it’s not all the time.

It does not matter when the family violence took place.

Family violence leave is separate to annual holidays, sick leave and bereavement leave. 

Family violence leave guide

Other rights employees have

Employees affected by family violence also have the right to:

  • ask for short-term flexible working arrangements of up to 2 months
  • not be treated adversely (badly) in the workplace because they might have experienced family violence.

Employees still have these rights if they experienced family violence before they began working for you, or before the law changed on 1 April 2019.

Flexible working

Rights for employees affected by domestic violence [PDF, 1.1 MB]

Employee privacy

What you must do

As an employer, you must:

  • allow any employee affected by family violence to take up to 10 days of paid family violence leave a year (in addition to sick leave and annual holidays entitlements)
  • consider flexible work requests
  • protect employees’ personal information.

Responding to a flexible working requests

If an employee needs more than 10 days' leave

You can choose to:

  • offer more than the minimum 10 days of paid family violence leave
  • allow an employee to take annual holidays, unpaid leave or family violence leave in advance if they have used all their paid family violence leave.

You should record all arrangements in writing.

Family violence leave and annual holidays

If an employee qualifies for family violence leave and needs it while they are on annual holidays, they can take family violence leave instead of annual holidays. They should inform you of this as soon as they can.

Managing annual holidays

Unused family violence leave

If an employee does not use their family violence leave in 12 months, they cannot carry it over to the next year. If they stop working for you, they are not entitled to be paid out for any family violence leave they have not taken.

Requesting proof of family violence

If an employee takes family violence leave or asks for short-term flexible working arrangements, you can ask for proof that they have been affected by family violence. For short-term flexible working requests you must do so within 3 working days of getting the request.

If you do ask for proof, you and your employee should both act in . That means being open, honest and quick to respond.

The law does not state what kind of proof you can accept. Examples of proof include:

  • a letter or email about what’s going on and how it affects the employee from either:
    • a support organisation – for example, a family violence support service or Oranga Tamariki

Oranga Tamariki(external link)

    • a support person
  • a report from a doctor or nurse
  • a report from a school
  • a declaration – a letter of evidence witnessed by an authorised person like a justice of the peace
  • any court or police documents about the family violence.

Paying your employees

You must pay employees who take family violence leave.

You must pay them their or for each day of family violence leave they take on a day they would otherwise have worked – also known as an .

You do not have to pay an employee if they are receiving weekly payments through ACC.

Pay for Sick, bereavement and family violence leave

Getting weekly compensation - ACC(external link)

Requests for short-term flexible working

Employees who are affected by family violence can at any time ask for flexible working arrangements for up to 2 months. Working arrangements can include:

  • hours and days of work
  • location of the employee's workplace
  • duties at work.

Employees can ask for this kind of flexible working at any time, even if the family violence took place before they became an employee or before the law changed. You must reply in writing within 10 working days at the latest.

What a request must include

Employees must ask you in writing for changes to their normal working arrangements. An employee can also get someone else to make a request for them. The employee must provide the following details in writing:

  • their name
  • the date they are making the request on
  • that they are asking for short-term flexible working, as set out in Part 6AB of the Employment Relations Act 2000

Part 6AB of the Employment Relations Act 2000 - New Zealand Legislation(external link)

  • what they want to change about their normal working arrangements
  • how long they want these changes to last – up to 2 months
  • when they want these changes to start and finish
  • how these changes will help them
  • what changes you may need to make if you agree to the employee’s request.

Responding to a request

You must give your answer to a request for short-term flexible working in writing as soon as you can and within 10 working days.

If you want proof your employee is affected by family violence, you must ask for it within 3 working days of getting the request. If they do not provide proof when asked, you may refuse their request.

By law, you must also give your employee information about suitable support services that can help with family violence. You can do this when you give your written answer to the employee’s request, or before.

Considering flexible working arrangements

Employer's/manager's response form to short-term flexible work request from employees affected by family violence [DOCX, 24 KB]

Declining a request

In some cases, you may not be able to approve a request for short-term flexible working arrangements – however, it’s important to give all requests full consideration.

If you refuse a request, you must say why, giving details in writing. You can only refuse a request:

  • if you did not get the proof you asked for within 10 working days of getting the request
  • on one or more of the recognised business grounds (‘non-accommodation grounds’).

You cannot refuse a request because it is from an employee who is bound by a .

  • work among existing staff cannot be reorganised
  • additional staff cannot be recruited
  • quality and performance would be negatively impacted
  • there is not enough work during the periods proposed
  • structural changes are planned
  • additional costs would be a burden
  • the ability to meet customer demand would be negatively impacted.

Developing workplace policies

As an employer, you should have workplace policies in place that provide support for employees affected by family violence.

For example, you could:

  • create a family violence policy that sets out how you will support employees who are affected by family violence
  • update existing leave and holidays policies, as well as flexible work policies
  • make changes at work to ensure staff affected by family violence are not treated adversely.

Having clear policies helps build good working relationships between workers and employers. They make it simpler for both you and your employees to handle the effects of family violence.

Create a family violence policy using Workplace Policy Builder.

Workplace Policy Builder - Business.govt.nz(external link)

Workplace policies and procedures

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