07 May 2019

“…but it is OUR problem”

Most people are at least familiar with the “Family Violence It’s Not OK… but It Is OK To Ask For Help” campaign that encourages the public to speak up and prevent incidents of domestic violence as well as to provide support to victims of domestic violence.

This is the idea that some people know what is occurring behind closed doors but do not want to speak up or appear to be meddling in the personal matters of others.

The campaign advertising makes the point that it is “Our Problem”, and due to recent employment law changes, employers will be able to take a practical lead to support victims.

From April 1, support for victims of domestic violence is closer at hand. Victims will be afforded up to 10 days paid domestic violence leave per year (after being employed for six months) to enable them to take steps toward a better life. Additionally, the same employee can request a short-term variation to their employment arrangements, such as their hours of work or location to make the change.

Most employers will have few concerns about supporting an employee who is a victim of domestic violence but employers are now turning their minds to the hidden administrative challenges. For example, how to record domestic violence leave taken in payroll? In this case, we recommend that employers should record the leave as domestic violence leave in the payroll system but after a pay run the employer could manually change the record and produce a payslip that shows domestic leave taken as special leave or similar. Also, where payroll systems allow, then an employee should be able to download their payslip manually or be able to collect them from work but employers should avoid sending them to the employee’s home address.

Chances are that an employee who is a victim of domestic violence is also not likely to be performing the tasks in their job as well as they could so there is an opportunity for employers to look more broadly at their health, safety and wellbeing policy as a platform to provide other support such as specialist counselling support or to educate employees who could also be perpetrators of domestic violence.

All employers are advised to review the leave provisions of their employment agreements and relevant company policies to include reference to the availability of domestic violence leave.

It might not be easy to do the right thing and it may even prove more costly to employers to provide an additional leave entitlement but it is better than finding out that you could have prevented something and didn’t.

Greg Cateley, HR Specialist

Ph: 027 266 9077