Shieff Angland Partner Shelley Eden discusses changes now in force in our employment environment – with more to come. It’s been a busy time for employers and employment lawyers, with ongoing changes to the Employment Relations Act 2000, however, there are other changes which also impact employers: Domestic violence leave.
The Domestic Violence—Victims’ Protection Act 2018 came into force on 1 April 2019. People subject to domestic violence can now take a new type of paid leave; and seek a flexible working arrangement to help support them out of a violent situation.
The Act provides leave for both those who are subjected to domestic violence and those living with a child who is subjected to domestic violence. The Act responds to an affected employee regardless of when the domestic violence occurred, even if this was before the person became an employee.
Once a person affected by domestic violence has completed 6 months’ employment, they are entitled to up to 10 days paid domestic violence leave each subsequent year, separate from annual leave and sick leave entitlements. The Act enables the employer to require proof that the employee is a person affected by domestic violence but does not give guidance as to what constitutes proof. Domestic violence leave does not accrue and is not paid out on termination of employment.
The Act also allows affected employees to seek a short-term, up to two-month, flexible working arrangement. The employee’s request must be in writing and the employer must deal with the request within 10 working days. The employer can refuse the request if certain specified grounds are met.
Lastly, the Act has broadened the scope of personal grievances to include a grievance for adverse treatment of an employee for being a person affected by domestic violence.
Minimum wage increase
Also from 1 April, the minimum wage has increased to $17.70 per hour. It is the largest increase to the minimum wage ever enacted in one step, and is part of the Government’s plans to increase the minimum wage to $20 per hour by 2021.
The weekly minimum is now $708, which is an annual salary of $36,816. Employers with salary earners on low salaries need to make sure they don’t accidentally fail to comply with the new rate.
Starting-out and training rates have also increased, to $14.16. These can only be used in specific narrow circumstances.
- Review and update policies and employment agreements to respond to the new domestic violence leave provisions (and other recent changes).
- Check the salaries of lower salaried staff to ensure they are being paid the minimum wage. And lift wages of any workers earning the minimum wage from 1 April.
If you would like any further information on the topics covered, please do not hesitate to contact the author.
Shelley Eden is a Partner of the firm, focusing on employment, trade practices and intellectual property. Shelley deals with all aspects of employment law and appears regularly at mediation and in the Employment Relations Authority, and has appeared in the Employment Court. She regularly presents to corporate clients as part of in-house training and development. Shelley works closely with our commercial team on statutory and regulatory compliance, competition and trade mark matters. A period out of legal practice included time in senior management, as well as lecturing in employment law and human resources management. She brings this experience to bear, providing clients with strategic, practical and timely advice. Shelley was admitted as a Barrister and Solicitor of the High Court of New Zealand in 1992. Contact Shelley at firstname.lastname@example.org or connect via LinkedIn
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