Problems getting family violence rights

Employees can go to Employment New Zealand or the Human Rights Commission if they have problems getting their family violence rights.

If an employee is finding it hard to get their employment rights, it’s likely they can resolve the problem through mediation, by going to Employment New Zealand or the Human Rights Commission.

An employee might have problems getting their family violence rights at work. For example, their employer:

  • has refused family violence leave
  • won’t pay them for family violence leave
  • did not answer their request for short-term flexible working within the 10 working days limit
  • refused their request without using the right ‘non-accommodation grounds’
  • treated the employee adversely – badly or unfairly – because they think the employee is affected by family violence.

How to complain

If an employee has problems getting their family violence rights, they should first talk to their employer, as long as they feel they can.

There are specialist services the employee can use to help resolve their problems.

Employment New Zealand

An employee can complain to Employment New Zealand if they have problems with family violence leave or asking for short-term flexible working.

An employee who thinks they have been treated adversely – badly or unfairly – must first raise a personal grievance with their employer. They must raise a personal grievance within 90 days.

Personal grievances has more information.

Human Rights Commission

The Human Rights Commission can help with adverse treatment in a wider range of employment situations, including some people who are not usually covered by Employment New Zealand. For example, they cover:

  • voluntary workers
  • self-employed workers
  • pre-employment situations, like applying for a job
  • employees as well.

Human Rights Commission website (external link)


At any time, employees can get free, confidential information and arrange for mediation from Employment New Zealand or the Human Rights Commission.

During mediation, a trained person helps people talk about what is wrong and how to resolve it. Both employee and employer must agree to go to mediation.

Employment New Zealand deals with employment law while the Human Rights Commission deals with human rights law.

If the employee is not sure which one to speak to, both services can give the employee information about how they can help.

Find out more about Mediation.

Contact Employment New Zealand

Contact the Human Rights Commission (external link)

Going to a decision-maker

If mediation doesn’t resolve a personal grievance or a complaint of adverse treatment, the employee can bring their case to the Employment Relations Authority (ERA) or the Human Rights Review Tribunal (HRRT). These are specialist decision-makers like a court that find facts, apply the law and make reasoned, binding decisions.

The Employment Relations Authority (ERA) deals with employment law. The Human Rights Review Tribunal (HRRT) deals with human rights law.

When the employee chooses one, they cannot bring their case to the other one.

Employment Relations Authority

If the employee chooses the ERA, they must contact it within:

  • 6 months about short-term flexible working arrangements
  • 12 months about family violence leave.

They will need to get in touch with Employment New Zealand first.

Find out more about the Employment Relations Authority

Human Rights Review Tribunal

If the employee chooses the HRRT, they should contact it within 12 months of experiencing the problem they want to complain about. Employees will need to get in touch with the Human Rights Commission first.

How to complain to the Human Rights Commission (external link)

Find out more about the Human Rights Review Tribunal

Personal information

Employers must protect their employees’ personal information. They must ask the employee first if they want to share it, unless the Privacy Act 1993 lets them share it. For example, a manager may need to share personal information to protect someone’s life or health, or public safety.

If an employee wants to complain about how their employer has handled their personal information, they can go to the Privacy Commissioner.

Privacy Commissioner website (external link)

Read more about Resolving employment problems.

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Page last revised: 17 August 2021

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