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Calls to revise domestic violence bill

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 25/05/2017

Proposed laws giving victims of domestic violence access to flexible work hours are well-intentioned, but need to be revised before they are passed by parliament, the Law Society says.

The body representing New Zealand lawyers on Thursday made its submission to a committee examining the Domestic Violence - Victims' Protection Bill.

"As currently drafted, the bill is likely to give rise to unintended consequences, including the risk of intrusion into individuals' privacy," spokeswoman Victoria Casey QC said.

In cases of domestic violence, how, when and to whom private information is revealed are sensitive and complex questions, the Law Society said in its submission.

By requiring victims to provide highly sensitive personal information to employers, it may instead create a barrier that stops them seeking help, it said.

"The bill does not provide sufficient guidance on how to balance the privacy and best interests of victims with employers' legal obligations to provide protective measures in the workplace," Ms Casey says.

The Law Society also said domestic violence victims would find it harder to access flexible working arrangements from their employer using provisions in the proposed bill, rather than the existing Employer Relations Act.

This is because under the proposed bill they would have to provide reasons supporting their application for flexible working hours, the society said.

It instead called on the committee examining the bill to consider whether the needs of these workers can be better met by the existing Employment Relations Act.

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