Spearheaded by Greens MP, Jan Logie, the Domestic Violence – Victims Protection Bill aims to improve legal protections for victims of domestic violence by establishing systems of workplace support.
The Bill is currently before the Select Committee, and is due to be reported back to the House in September. If successful, the Bill will make changes to the Domestic Violence Act 1995, the Employment Relations Act 2000, the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015, the Holidays Act 2003 and the Human Rights Act 1993.
The key changes that employers will need to address:
Holidays Act 2003
The Bill proposes to introduce up to 10 days of domestic violence leave per year, to be paid in the same manner as sick leave or bereavement leave. Entitlement for this new type of leave requires an employee to provide a “domestic violence document”, which are documents relating to domestic violence – like a police report, a record of police caution, or a record of criminal proceedings or conviction.
Employment Relations Act 2000
As it stands, the Bill allows victims of domestic violence to request flexible working arrangements (like variation in hours, days, place and duties.).An employer must deal with this request as soon as possible and no later than 3 months after it has been received.
Health and Safety at Work Act 2015
The Bill proposes to amend the definition of “hazard” to include the situation where a person’s behaviour stems from being the victim or perpetuator of domestic violence.
Employers would be required to have in place a workplace policy for situations where a person’s behaviour stems from being the victim or perpetuator of domestic violence, and the person’s behaviour is an actual or potential cause of harm to any person within or outside the workplace.
Employers would also have a duty to take all reasonable and practicable steps to provide any health and safety representative with training in supporting employees who are victims of domestic violence.
Human Rights Act 1993 and the Employment Relations Act 2000
The Bill also introduces “being a victim of domestic violence” as a new ground of prohibited discrimination under both Acts.
The Domestic Violence – Victims Protection Bill provides workplace protections through proactive employer obligations. The expectation is that these changes will reduce the effects of domestic violence by providing confidence in employment, economic security and assisting a victim’s journey out of violence.
The Bill is likely to be amended following consideration by select committee. Watch this space for updates on its progress.
Our thanks to Simon Davies-Colley for writing this article.