Taking 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. You can also ask your employer for short-term flexible working arrangements at any time.

What you’re entitled to

You can take paid family violence leave if you have been affected by family violence and:

  • you have 6 months’ current continuous employment with the same employer, or
  • you have worked for the employer for a total of 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.

You can take this leave if:

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

It does not matter when the family violence took place.

Family violence leave guide

Employee privacy

Other rights employees have

If you are affected by family violence you also have the right to:

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

You still have these rights if you experienced family violence before you began working for your current employer or before the law changed on 1 April 2019.

Responding to a flexible working request

Taking family violence leave

You must tell your employer you want to take family violence leave as early as you can.

Your employer can ask you for proof that you are affected by family violence. They do not need to pay you until they get this proof unless you have a ‘reasonable excuse’. An example of a ‘reasonable excuse’ could be that you had to move home quickly and did not have the time to get proof.
Annual holidays and family violence leave

If you qualify for family violence leave and need to take it while you’re on annual holidays, you can do so, instead of using your annual holidays. You should tell your employer as soon as you can.

Taking annual holidays

Providing proof of family violence

If your employer asks for proof, you should both act in . That means being open, honest and quick to respond. The law does not state what kind of proof an employer should accept. Some examples might include:

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

Oranga Tamariki(external link)

Unused family violence leave

If you do not use your family violence leave in 12 months, you can’t carry it over to the next year. If you stop working for your employer, they do not have to pay you for any family violence leave you have not taken.

If you need more than 10 days leave

Your employer can choose to:

  • offer more than the minimum 10 days of paid family violence leave
  • allow you to take annual holidays, unpaid leave or family violence leave in advance if you’ve used all your paid family violence leave.

Your employer should record all arrangements in writing.

Getting paid for family violence leave

Your employer must pay you while you’re on family violence leave.

This must be at the rate of your (or , if applicable) for each day of family violence leave you take on a day you normally work – known as an ‘ ’.

Pay for Sick, bereavement and family violence leave

Your employer does not have to pay you if you are getting weekly payments from ACC.

Getting weekly compensation - ACC(external link)

Asking for short-term flexible working

If you are affected by family violence, you can ask your employer in writing for flexible working arrangements for up to 2 months. You can also get someone else to make a request for you.

You must include in your request:

  • your name
  • the date you are making the request on
  • that you 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 you want to change about your normal working arrangements
  • how long you want these changes to last – up to 2 months
  • when you want these changes to start and finish
  • how these changes will help you
  • what changes the employer may need to make if they agree to your request.

Short-term flexible work request form for employees affected by family violence [DOCX, 26 KB]

Your employer must reply in writing within 10 working days of receiving your request. If they want proof that you have been affected by family violence, they must ask for it within 3 days of getting your request.

Your employer must also give you information about suitable support services that can help with family violence. They can do this when they give their written answer to your request, or before.

Requesting flexible working arrangements

If your employer declines your request

If the employer refuses to give you short-term flexible working arrangements, they must let you know in writing and explain why. An employer can only refuse a request if they:

  • did not get the proof they asked for within 10 working days
  • on 1 or more of the recognised business grounds, also referred to as ‘non-accommodation grounds’.
  • 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.

You can contact our service centre for help if you think your employer has either:

  • not followed the law – for example, has not responded to your request within 10 working days
  • got it wrong when they refused your request to change your working arrangements – for example, they have not used the proper business grounds.

Contact us

If you are not getting what you are entitled to

If you’re not getting what you’re entitled to in the workplace, you should first talk to your employer.

There are also specialist services you can use to help resolve any problems. Information and mediation are available through Employment New Zealand or the Human Rights Commission.

Resolving issues yourselves

Steps to resolve problems

Employment New Zealand

If you are having problems with family violence leave or requesting short-term flexible working, you can complain to Employment New Zealand.

If you think you have been treated adversely (badly or unfairly) in the workplace because of family violence, you should raise a personal grievance with your employer, within 90 days.

Personal grievances

Contact us

Human Rights Commission

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

  • voluntary workers
  • self-employed workers
  • pre-employment situations.

Human Rights Commission(external link)

Going to a decision-maker

If mediation fails to resolve a personal grievance or a complaint, you can take your 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 ERA deals with employment law. The HRRT deals with human rights law. When an employee chooses 1, they cannot then take their case to the other.

Employment Relations Authority

If you choose the ERA, you must contact them 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.

Employment Relations Authority(external link)

Human Rights Review Tribunal

If you choose the HRRT, you should contact them within 12 months of experiencing the problem you wish to complain about. You will need to get in touch with the Human Rights Commission first.

Making a complaint - Human Rights Commission(external link)

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