Call Now
  1. Home
  2. Guides
  3. Workplace health and safety
  4. A comprehensive guide to family violence leave in new zealand

A Comprehensive Guide to Family Violence Leave in New Zealand

Published April 7, 2024 | Adam Wyatt - Copywriter and Content Creator

Family violence is a complex and devastating issue impacting individuals and families across New Zealand. It can take many forms including physical, emotional, psychological, financial, sexual abuse or stalking.   

The experience of family violence can be deeply traumatic and have a significant impact on a person's safety, wellbeing, and ability to function in all aspects of life, including work.  

This guide provides valuable information on family violence leave entitlements for employees in New Zealand. Understanding these rights and available support systems is crucial for both employees experiencing family violence and employers seeking to create a safe and supportive workplace.  

Understanding family violence leave 

Family violence leave in New Zealand allows employees experiencing family violence to take time off work to address their safety and wellbeing without jeopardising their income or job security.  

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) defines family violence as violence or threats of violence by a family member that causes fear or harm. This includes physical, emotional, psychological, sexual abuse or stalking.   

Legislative framework and entitlements 

The Holidays Act 2003 provides employees with the right to 10 days of paid family violence leave each year. This leave is separate from other leave entitlements like sick leave or annual leave. It doesn't accrue over time and is available in full at the beginning of each 12-month employment period.   

This legislation doesn't differentiate between business sizes. This means employees working for small businesses, large corporations and everything in between are all entitled to 10 days of paid family violence leave each year.  

Who is eligible for family violence leave? 

Family violence leave is available to employees who need time to deal with the impact of domestic violence experienced by themselves or someone close to them. This can include: 

  • A spouse/former spouse, de facto partner/former de facto partner, children, parents, grandparents, grandchildren, and siblings. 

  • A member of the employee's household, including a current or former partner's child, parent, etc. 

  • A current or former intimate partner. 

  • Close relatives under Maori customary law. 

Your Rights as an employee experiencing family violence 

New Zealand law recognises the challenges faced by employees affected by family violence and offers important protections: 

  • Paid leave: You have the right to take up to 10 days of paid family violence leave each year. It's important to note that employers can offer more than the minimum 10 days if they choose. This leave is separate from your annual leave, sick leave or bereavement leave entitlements. 

  • Flexible working arrangements: In addition to leave, you can request short-term flexible working arrangements for up to two months. This could involve changes to your duties, work location or starting and finishing times to better accommodate your needs during this difficult period. 

  • Protection from discrimination: You are legally protected from any negative treatment or discrimination in the workplace because you experienced family violence. This is a crucial right that ensures your job security and fair treatment even during challenging circumstances. 

These rights apply regardless of when the family violence occurred. You are still entitled to support if the violence happened before you started your current job or even before the law changed in April 2019.  

Who can access family violence leave? 

To be eligible for family violence leave in New Zealand, you typically need to have been working for your employer for at least six months. There are two main ways this requirement can be met: 

  • Six months of continuous employment: This applies if you've been consistently employed by the same company for the past six months. 

  • Six months with specific work patterns: You may still qualify for domestic violence leave if your work schedule involves less than full-time hours. The criteria here are averaging at least 10 hours per week and working at least one hour every week or 40 hours in any given month for the past six months with your current employer. 

Which types of employment qualify? 

All employees qualify for family violence leave, regardless of employment type: 

  • Full-time employees 

  • Part-time employees (pro rata leave based on their work hours) 

  • Casual employees who meet minimum employment requirements (as outlined above), demonstrating an ongoing working relationship. 

What can family violence leave be used for? 

Family and domestic violence leave can be used for various purposes related to managing safety and wellbeing: 

  • Securing safety (relocation, court appearances, liaising with police) 

  • Medical appointments (physical or mental health) 

  • Legal or financial support (lawyers, financial advisors) 

  • Counselling 

Nationwide uniformity 

Family violence leave applies consistently across New Zealand. Employees throughout the country have access to the same level of support, regardless of location.  

Employer responsibilities 

Employers must treat all matters relating to family violence leave with confidentiality and sensitivity. They are legally obligated to provide this leave and cannot discriminate against employees for taking it.    

Employers are encouraged to develop supportive workplace policies beyond legal requirements, creating a safe and respectful environment.  

Additional workplace policies 

While the New Zealand Holidays Act 2003 guarantees 10 days of paid family violence leave, employers have the opportunity to go beyond the legal minimum and demonstrate genuine care for their employees' wellbeing.  

Here are some ways workplaces can develop supportive policies to assist those affected by family violence: 

  • Increased paid leave: Offering more than the mandated 10 days of paid family violence leave allows employees greater flexibility and time to address safety concerns, access support services or make necessary arrangements. 

  • Flexible working arrangements beyond two months: While the law provides for up to two months of flexible work options, some situations may require longer adjustments. Compassionate employers can explore extending flexible work arrangements on a case-by-case basis. This flexibility could involve changes to work hours, location (working from home) or workload to accommodate ongoing needs. 

  • Confidentiality and support: Creating a safe and confidential space for employees to disclose their situation and seek support is crucial. This could involve designated staff members trained to handle sensitive information and provide referrals to internal or external support services. 

  • Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs): Offering access to an EAP provides confidential counselling and support services to employees dealing with various personal challenges, including family violence. 

  • Financial assistance: Some employers may consider offering short-term financial assistance or emergency loans to help employees experiencing financial hardship due to family violence. 

  • Security measures: Depending on the situation, employers may explore implementing temporary security measures at work or assisting with relocation costs if necessary to ensure the employee's safety. 

  • Awareness and training: Regularly conducting workplace training sessions on family violence can raise awareness, increase understanding among colleagues, and encourage employees to seek help if needed. This training can educate staff on recognising signs of family violence, available resources, and appropriate workplace responses. 

It's important to note that developing and implementing these policies may require consultation with legal and human resources professionals like Employsure to ensure compliance with New Zealand employment law and best practices.  

Moving forward with support 

Family violence leave is a crucial support system for employees in New Zealand. By staying informed and providing a supportive workplace environment, employers can contribute to a culture of safety and understanding for those impacted by family violence.  

Employers have a significant role to play. Having a supportive and understanding workplace environment can make a real difference for those affected by family violence. While the legalities are clear, implementing effective policies and procedures may require additional guidance.  

Employsure is a leading provider of workplace relations advice in New Zealand and can be a valuable partner in navigating family violence leave and developing comprehensive support policies.   

Contact our HR experts today and let them help you create a safe and supportive workplace environment for all your employees.  

Frequently Asked Questions

What is family violence leave?

Under New Zeeland law family violence leave is for employees needing time to address family violence situations. It allows them to manage their safety and wellbeing without jeopardising their job or income. 

How many days of family violence leave can employees take?

Employees are entitled to 10 days of paid family violence leave per year. This leave is separate from annual leave, sick leave, or bereavement leave. 

Who qualifies for family violence leave in NZ?

You qualify if you've been employed for at least six months, either continuously with the same employer or by averaging 10 hours per week with at least one hour every week or 40 hours in any month for the past six months. Family violence can involve violence against you, your children, parents, siblings, or other close relatives, including current or former partners.

Do I need documentation to take family violence leave?

No, extensive documentation isn't required to prove you've experienced family violence. A basic explanation to your employer about needing leave for personal reasons is sufficient. 

Can my employer deny my family violence leave request?

No, employers are legally obligated to provide family violence leave and cannot discriminate against employees for taking it.

Can my employer offer more than 10 days of family violence leave?

Yes. Employers can go beyond the legal minimum by offering additional paid leave or flexible working arrangements for up to two months (or potentially longer in special circumstances). 

What resources are available for support?

Here are some resources that can help:

  • Shine: Free national helpline (0508 744 633).
  • Women's Refuge: Crisis accommodation and support (0800 REFUGE or 0800 733 843).
  • Ministry of Justice: Family violence legal issues information.
  • Your employer: They may have internal support measures.

Guides in this category

View All

Have a question?

Employsure Logo

Not a client yet?

0800 568 012

Existing clients call

0800 675 700

Existing clients (overseas)

+64 9 941 5205

Employsure Office

8 Tangihua Street, Auckland CBD
Peninsula LogoEmploysure Law LogoFair Work Help LogoEmploysure Mutual LogoBright HR LogoHealth Assured LogoGraphite HRM Logo
Peninsula LogoEmploysure Law LogoFair Work Help LogoEmploysure Mutual LogoBright HR LogoHealth Assured LogoGraphite HRM Logo

Copyright © 2024 Employsure Pty Ltd. ABN 40 145 676 026

Employsure Protect is a discretionary risk product issued by Employsure Mutual Limited ACN 630 256 478 (AFSL 544232). Employsure Mutual has appointed Employsure Limited to distribute the product in New Zealand. To decide if this product is right for you, please read the Employsure Protect Product Disclosure Statement.