Employers told to stop asking for proof of domestic violence

'Asking for proof that someone has experienced violence is unsafe'

Employers told to stop asking for proof of domestic violence

Employers across New Zealand are being urged to stop asking for proof of domestic violence when employees are requesting access to workplace support.

Mira Taitz, DVFREE lead of family violence specialist service Shine, said there is already a low uptake on workplace support, such as leave and flexible work, and employers should ensure that barriers preventing access to them are broken down.

"Shine is calling on all employers to proactively offer domestic violence leave and flexible working for as long as needed to employees affected by family violence immediately, without requesting proof," Taitz said in a statement.

"Asking for proof that someone has experienced violence is unsafe because often people don't have any proof beyond their word."

Supporting victims of domestic violence

New Zealand has a Domestic Violence – Victims' Protection Act 2018 in place that allows employees to take up to 10 days of domestic leave violence leave annually.

It also allows employees to request short-term flexible working arrangements so they can deal with the effects of domestic leave violence.

The law, however, also permits employers to ask for proof if they can require it within three days after receiving a request related to domestic violence situations.

"Unfortunately, Shine regularly hears of employers who are unaware of their obligations under the Act. Others may fulfil their legal obligations but fail to do so in a way that provides safe and effective support for employees experiencing family violence," Taitz said.

Employers should be concerned about the reluctance in the workforce to seek workplace support when they need it, according to Taitz.

"When people impacted by family violence get support from their workplace, it can make an enormous difference. For so many of us, work provides social connection, wellbeing, a sense of purpose, and financial independence," she said.

"We have heard from so many people that the workplace support they received was an absolute lifeline. It is a really practical step that employers can take to address the high levels of family violence in Aotearoa New Zealand."

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