Our recent guide to Domestic Violence Leave struck a chord with a lot of readers. Small business employers are still uncertain about their new responsibilities, and there's not a lot of info out there! So we decided to find out more for you.
We may be the payroll pros, but this time we're calling in an expert from the HR side. We talked to Kim Rippin, Founder of Cinch Human Resources and a very resourceful human. Kim has been helping small businesses manage their people for 15 years, and knows her industry inside out. Here's what she had to say.
A Quick Reminder
Domestic Violence Leave will come in from April 1st 2019. This entitles "a person who is affected by domestic violence" to:
- Up to 10 days’ paid leave per year (provided they meet the 6 months service required);
- A right to request short term flexible working.
- Kim recommends that you start with your contracts. You'll need to revisit your permanent employment agreements and add a clause that lays out employees' entitlements to Domestic Violence Leave. Cinch have actually written a really good example that you can use:
Domestic Violence Leave
If you are a Person Affected by Domestic Violence (as defined in the Holidays Act 2003) and you have 6 months’ continuous service, you may be entitled to Domestic Violence Leave in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Holidays Act 2003. In summary, after 6 months’ continuous service, you may be entitled to up 10 days’ paid Domestic Violence Leave in each subsequent year of service for the purpose of assisting you to deal with the effects of being a Person Affected by Domestic Violence.
- Offer a bit of extra training and education to your people, to bring them up to speed. If you have a program for diversity or wellness, update it to include your business' new responsibilities. A good resource is Shine’s "DVFREE" programme and workplace learning module.
- Remember, you have to provide info about support services to anybody who requests domestic violence leave. Put some guidelines in place for when and how this should happen.
- Kim reminded us that there's another subsection of the new law: "employers must not unlawfully discriminate against an employee if they are or are suspected or assumed to be a person affected by domestic violence."
- Cinch recommends that you introduce a written Domestic Violence Policy to your existing company policy or staff handbook. This makes sure that everybody has a clear understanding of rules and expectations, and shows that your business is taking notice of the law.
This should be an ongoing effort, Kim says:
As a good employer, it's important to ensure employees are encouraged to speak up about problems they may be dealing with around domestic violence. This won’t be achieved by simply dropping in a new workplace Policy and being done with it. Instead, employers should be thinking about how they actively communicate and embed into their workplace a culture that makes people feel safe and supported in relation to Domestic Violence.
- If you want total confidence that you're doing it right, you can actually take advantage of Cinch's new Domestic Violence policy. This will give your business a legally vetted document that brings you up to date with the Victims Protection bill. You can purchase a copy of the Policy here.
Hopefully we've got you feeling well-informed and compliance-ready! While you're at it, make sure you're across other upcoming changes to employment in NZ.
A big thanks to Kim Rippin and the team at Cinch for their time and wisdom. If you have any questions, get in touch, or talk to Cinch for help with your HR.