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Domestic Violence Policy

Category Human Resources
Type Policy
Approved by Vice-Chancellor's Advisory Group
Date Policy Took Effect 9 March 2020
Last Approved Revision
Sponsor Director, Human Resources
Responsible Officer Employment Relations Manager
Review Date 9 March 2022

Purpose

To set out the legislative entitlements of employees affected by domestic violence; and to make clear the University’s commitment to supporting affected employees and to providing a safe and supportive workplace.

Organisational Scope

The Policy applies to all University employees who are affected by domestic violence.

Definitions

Domestic Violence
The Domestic Violence Act 1995 defines domestic violence as violence against that person by any other person with whom that person is, or has been, in a domestic relationship. Violence means physical abuse, sexual abuse, and psychological abuse, including but not limited to intimidation, harassment, and damage to property, threats of physical abuse, sexual abuse or psychological abuse, and financial or economic abuse.

Domestic violence is also the psychological abuse of a child, by causing or allowing the child to see or hear the physical, sexual or psychological abuse of someone with whom the child has a domestic relationship or putting the child at real risk of seeing or hearing that abuse (the person who suffered the abuse is not regarded, as having caused or allowed the child to see or hear the abuse, or be at risk of seeing or hearing abuse).
Affected by Domestic violence
A person is affected by domestic violence, as defined above, if they are experiencing domestic violence at the present moment or if they continue to suffer adverse effects from domestic violence that occurred in the past (including pre-employment with the University) or if they have in their care, either regularly or periodically, a child (under the age of 17) against whom any other person inflicts or has inflicted domestic violence.
First Responders
First responders are trained employees of the University who can help employees affected by domestic violence to find support and assist them with the processes outlined in this policy.

Content

1. Background

  1. The University is committed to taking all reasonable and practical steps within its power, to support and protect employees affected by domestic violence. The Domestic Violence – Victim’s Protection Act 2018, provides legislative entitlements to employees affected by domestic violence, including;
    1. the right to apply for up to 10 days paid domestic violence leave per year
    2. the right to request a variation to their working arrangement<
    3. the right to be free from adverse treatment because they are, or are suspected of being a person affected by domestic violence.
  2. Furthermore the University has an obligation to ensure that all employees are safe at work. If an employee considers a threat to be real and serious, this should be reported directly to the Police. Call 111 if someone is in immediate danger.

2. First Responders

First responders are the Divisional HR Managers, HR Advisers, and members of the University Occupational Health team, who are trained to provide appropriate support to affected employees and to assist with the processes outlined in this policy. An affected employee can approach a first responder of their choice.

3. Domestic Violence Leave

  1. An employee’s entitlement to apply for up to 10 days paid domestic violence leave annually, comes into effect at the time of appointment.
  2. An employee should treat domestic violence leave, as they would any other type of leave and seek approval beforehand (if that leave is anticipated) and if not, notify the University as soon as possible of their absence.
  3. If the employee has used their leave entitlement they can apply for additional leave.
  4. First responders or the employee’s supervisor/manager can assist employees to apply for domestic violence leave.
  5. Requests for domestic violence leave require approval from the Director, Human Resources (HR Director).

4. Variations to Working Arrangements

  1. Employees affected by domestic violence have the right to request a short term (2 months or shorter) variation to their working conditions (for example, hours, days, and place of work) and/or how their contact details are managed.
  2. Requests require approval of the HR Director, who may seek line management input before making the decision to approve any requested variation.
  3. Requests must be made in writing but employees can ask a first responder, their supervisor/manager or any other person to assist them to write the request, or to write the request on their behalf.
  4. Requests must include the employee’s name, place of work within the University, supervisor or manager’s name and the variation they are seeking, including the start and end date for the changes.
  5. The University will try to accommodate requests whenever possible, but there are certain grounds on which an employer may refuse a request. If the University cannot accommodate the request, it will provide the employee with a clear written explanation as to why the request has been refused.

5. The University’s Response

A response will be provided in writing as soon as possible and no later than 10 working days after receiving the request. The University will try to accommodate requests whenever it is reasonable and practicable to do so.

6. Other ways that the University can Support Employees:

  1. Develop a safety plan for the workplace, which may include working with the Proctor and/or Campus Cop (see safety planning in section 9 for full details).
  2. Re-route salary payments to a different bank account number.
  3. Connect employees with specialist domestic violence support agencies (see full contact details below in section 9).
  4. Support eligible employees to access free counselling or the employee assistance programme (EAP)

7. Privacy for Affected Employees

  1. Any disclosure from an employee will be treated with the strictest of confidence.
  2. Information will be shared on a strictly need-to-know basis to protect the employee’s privacy as much as possible.
  3. Domestic violence leave will be coded by payroll in a way that does not identify it as domestic violence leave.

8. Raising a Complaint

  1. If the employee has made a request under this policy and the University has not responded within 10 working days of receiving the request or has refused a request without explanation or has refused a request and relied on grounds that it cannot rely on, then the employee can raise a complaint with the mediation service (or Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment), the Employment Relations Authority or the Labour Inspectorate.
  2. An employee can raise a personal grievance if they believe that they have been treated adversely by the University because they are, or are suspected to be, a person affected by domestic violence. Details on how to raise a personal grievance are set out in the University’s employment agreements.
  3. Alternatively an employee may raise a complaint with the Human Rights Commission.

9. Safety Planning

  1. Employees can contact the Proctor to discuss concerns about safety on Campus. The Proctor can assist in assessing risks and developing a safety plan that will address the individual’s safety concerns, to the extent that it is reasonable and practicable to do so. The safety plan may include, but is not limited to, physical security on Campus, an emergency plan and the identification of a secure location on Campus.
  2. Employees can also approach a first responder and/or their supervisor/manager to assist them with the safety planning process.
  3. The University reserves the right to deny access to any part of/or all of the University’s premises (including University provided accommodation) to perpetrators of domestic violence who are considered to be a threat to any member of the University community.

Related Policies, Procedures and Forms

Contact for Further Information

If you have any queries regarding the content of this policy or need further clarification, contact the Employment Relations Manager.
Email kelly.ferguson@otago.ac.nz

Contacts Details for Immediate Support

Crisis Lines

If a member of the University community considers a threat to be real and serious, this should be reported directly to the Police, with or without consent of the affected people.

If someone is in danger call Police & emergency - dial 111.

Other crisis and support lines are listed below:

  • I- Family violence Information Line: 0800 456 450 (free call within New Zealand)
  • Shine national helpline: 0508 744 633 [9am – 11pm] (free call within New Zealand)
  • Women’s Refuge Crisis Line: 0800 733 843 [24 hours] (free call within New Zealand)
  • Shakti- for migrant and refugee women: 0800 742 584 [24 hours] (free call within New Zealand)
  • National network of stopping violence: +64 3 391 0048
  • Victim Support 0800 842 846 (fee call within New Zealand)
  • Child Youth and Family 0508 326 459 (free call within New Zealand)
  • Emergency Psychiatric Service 0800 467 846 or free text 1737 (free within New Zealand)

Dunedin

If a member of the University community feels unsafe, the Watch Control Room is staffed 24/7 and can be reached on +64 3 479 5000 (0800 479 5000 within New Zealand). Emergency phones are located across campus. The location of the phones can be found here. Campus watch can help any member of the University community in Dunedin to get home safely if they have concerns.

Christchurch

If a member of the Christchurch campus feels unsafe at any point while on campus, they should call UOC/Hospital Campus site dial 777, external sites dial 111 if someone is in danger.

Wellington and Southland

If a member of the Wellington or Southland community is concerned for their safety on campus and/or concerned about getting home safely they should contact their HoD/Supervisor.

Any individual who is under the influence of alcohol or other drugs should not be reluctant to seek assistance for that reason.