Domestic violence workplace Bill drawn from ballot; more businesses launch policies

Mon 05 Dec 2016

Green MP Jan Logie's Domestic Violence - Victims' Protection Bill has been drawn from the ballot. The bill aims to enhance workplace protections ...

Green MP Jan Logie's Domestic Violence - Victims' Protection Bill has been drawn from the ballot. The bill aims to enhance workplace protections for victims of domestic violence through a series of amendments.

The Domestic Violence - Victims' Protection Bill provides for up to 10 days paid leave for people affected by family violence, flexible working arrangements and additional protections for victims.

Ms Logie said "A secure job means victims are much more able to maintain economic independence, and it helps them to find a pathway out of violence to successfully rebuild their lives. The bill will clarify that Domestic Violence is a health and safety hazard, and will strengthen flexible working arrangements to ensure they are fit for purpose."

Women's Refuge, the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions (CTU) and the Public Service Association (PSA) all support the bill.

PSA National Secretary Erin Polaczuk said:

"In a recent survey, more than half of our members had either been victims of family violence, or knew someone who has.

Victims are often left anxious and fearful, and their abusers may try to stop them going to work.

Staying in work is crucially important for victims of family violence - for employers it makes good business sense, but it’s also the right thing to do.

Research by Suzanne Snively in 2014 showed the impact of family violence costs employers at least $368 million a year. If nothing is done, it will cost employers at least $3.7 billion by 2024 - a loss of 2.3 million days of work."

CTU Secretary Sam Huggard said:

"The 10 days of paid leave in any calendar year could be used for medical appointments, legal proceedings and other activities related to family violence. Already provision for paid leave exists in some collective agreements, but for working people without access to collective organisation in union, there needs to be a minimum legal right also."

Women’s Refuge Chief Executive Dr Ang Jury said:

"While there are organisations such as The Warehouse, Countdown and the ANZ that have already implemented policy to support employees that are experiencing family violence, we think that this is something that should be universal, a right for all staff of any organisation.

Organisations with this policy already in place will confirm that it is providing exactly what was intended; in addition they’ve seen a shift in workplace culture and attitudes towards family violence, as well as the positive impacts on business."

For more information:

Listen to an interview with MP Jan Logie about the bill

Read the full text of the proposed bill

Businesses implement family and domestic violence policies 

The Human Rights Commission has launched a campaign to encourage businesses to introduce family violence policies in their workplaces. Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner Dr Jackie Blue said "By implementing a family violence policy, the cost savings to the business will be truly significant but crucially, for victims, it can be life-changing and life-saving."

Countdown has launched a Family Violence Policy to offer workplace protections for the 18,000 employees across their supermarkets, distribution centres, processing plants and support offices. The policy entitles employees who are directly affected by family violence to up to 10 days paid leave for full time employees and five days paid leave for part time employees, altered days and hours of work, changes to work phone number and/or email address and access to the employee assistance programme. In addition, employees who are supporting a person experiencing family violence may take up to 10 days unpaid family leave to assist that person.

Family Planning has also launched a Domestic Violence policy for staff which provides paid leave, flexible working arrangements, agreed safety plans and access to the employee assistance programmes for staff who are impacted by domestic violence.

Other New Zealand workplaces who provide family violence workplace support include the Warehouse Group, the University of Auckland and the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB).

Update: MSD will not provide specific domestic violence leave for staff

The Ministry of Social Development (MSD) has confirmed it will not offer specific domestic violence leave, but will broaden their existing policy to allow staff to use special leave in the case of domestic violence without having to use annual leave first. The outcome was part of the agreement reached with negotiations to update contracts with the Public Service Association.

Jan Logie criticised the Ministry's decision saying "If the ministry that is leading the public discussion around social change to prevent domestic violence isn't able to get those provisions through their negotiations then we really do need to put this in legislation."

Background research and information

Further information and resources

Selected media

Jackie Blue: Employers have a part to play in tackling family violence, Dr Jackie Blue, Equal Employment Commissioner, NZ Herald, 16.12.2016 

Image: Pixabay