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Domestic Violence What Employers Need to Know

  • Post category:Labour Laws

Domestic Violence – Victims Protection Act 2018 When considering policy changes, simply meeting the legislative requirements here is not all you can do to foster a healthier, more supportive workplace environment in regard to the issue of domestic violence. 


Employees (employed for longer than 6 months) affected by domestic violence will be able to take up to 10 days’ Domestic Violence Leave in any 12-month period. This includes perpetrators if they are motivated to change. Leave must be requested in writing.

  • Employers may request proof of domestic violence.
  • There are no exemptions for small employers.
  • The Act explicitly prohibits employers from discriminating against staff affected by domestic violence.
  • The definition of domestic violence must be clear in the workplace. Abuse can be physical and/or emotional and can include coercive/controlling behaviour, financial control, intimidation, and harassment. It most often manifests in a pattern of controlling behaviours, though each of those behaviours may not appear abusive in isolation.
  • The Act covers behaviour in any intimate relationship, family relationship, or relationship between people who live together, including flatmates.
  • Employees affected may request temporary flexible working arrangements for up to 2 months. These could include changing work location/hours, changing work contact details, and ensuring the employee is safe getting to/from work.
  • Companies must appoint ‘first responders’ – trustworthy, empathetic staff who are not managers – for affected staff to confide in and seek support from as they navigate the issue. For employers with fewer than 200 staff, there must be a minimum of three ‘first responders’ in place.
  • Employers must set up ongoing awareness and education campaigns to ensure all staff, including leadership, have at least a basic understanding of domestic violence issues and HR policy, and know where to seek help, both internally and from community specialists.


  • Update employment contracts with:
  1. Removal of discriminatory labels or language related to domestic violence
  2. Clear definitions of all kinds of domestic violence (not just physical)
  3. Clauses in the Leave and Absence policy regarding paid Domestic Leave period
  4. Clarification of what proof is expected from those affected
  5. Clarification of which resources, support, and flexible working arrangement options are available to staff.
  • Appoint and train ‘first responders. Managers should also be trained to effectively support and manage affected staff.
  • Create and implement a workplace-wide education campaign on domestic violence, related policy, and all support systems.
  • Consider whether it would be more socially responsible to provide support further than the minimum legislative requirements.