Legislation on workplace protections for domestic violence victims passes

Image: Joakim Honkasalo on Unsplash

The Domestic Violence—Victims' Protection Bill has passed its third reading and received Royal Assent. It will come into effect on 1 April 2019.

Domestic Violence—Victims' Protection Bill includes up to ten days of paid leave a year, flexible working arrangements, protection from discrimination on the basis of being a domestic violence victim, and mandatory workplace policies.

The bill was a member's bill introduced by Jan Logie and drawn from the ballot in 2016. Ms Logie, now Under-Secretary for Justice (Domestic and Sexual Violence Issues), said:

"I’m beyond delighted to see this law finally become a reality. This is a win for victims, a win for employers, and a win for society. This law is a world first and it will make a significant difference for people trying to escape domestic violence.

... Everyone should be able to live free from violence. But too many people find it impossible to keep their jobs while trying to move house, attend court dates, or settle the kids at a new school. And too many employers are unaware of the extent to which domestic violence impacts their employees and workplaces, and are unsure of how to respond. This bill gives them a framework to do the right thing for everyone – victims and themselves."

The legislation passed with the support of the Green, Labour and New Zealand First parties. The National Party dropped their support for the bill before the third reading.

Domestic violence charity Shine said the bill would benefit all employers, including small businesses, through increased productivity and better employee retention. Shine communications manager Holly Carrington said domestic violence was already costing businesses – "not just financially but more importantly the human toll. Without support from their employer, work is not a safe place for victims of domestic violence, and these staff get judged and blamed for resulting performance issues and often end up leaving their job." Shine offers employer support through their DVFREE programme. Listen to an interview with Shine spokesperson Holly Carrington.

Women's Refuge said it was "delighted" with the outcome, with Chief Executive Dr Ang Jury saying "This is very pleasing to see that the government is ensuring added support for New Zealanders who are experiencing family violence." Women's Refuge offers support for employers through their Responsive Workplaces programme.

Related news

The Human Rights Commission and several New Zealand employers recently launched the website www.businessworkingtoendfamilyviolence.co.nz. The website provides information to support workplaces develop and implement a family violence workplace policy.

Women's Health Victoria recently published a knowledge paper, Working with workplaces: challenges and opportunities for workplace violence prevention and bystander programs (2018). The paper uses an evaluation of the Take A Stand programme to look at challenges, tensions and opportunities in workplace programmes for the prevention of violence against women.

More information 

For more information on the legislation and related resources see our previous stories:

Justice Committee reports on domestic violence workplace protections bill, May 2018

Westpac first employer to receive Shine's DVFREE Tick, October 2017

Additional feedback invited on Domestic Violence—Victims' Protection Bill, May 2017

Submissions open on domestic violence workplace bill; new research on economic abuse, March 2017

Addressing family violence in the workplace on International Women's Day, February 2017

Domestic violence workplace Bill drawn from ballot; more businesses launch policies, December 2016

Selected media

New leave for domestic violence victims, NZ Herald, 01.08.2018

Business shouldn't fear domestic violence act -Warehouse CEO, Māori Television, 27.07.2018

Domestic violence bill: Warning of unintended consequences, Stuff, 27.07.2018

New domestic violence law will help victims, Press Release: Human Rights Commission, Scoop, 26.07.2018

Life changing legislation celebrated, Press Release: NZNO, Scoop, 26.07.2018

Domestic violence legislation shows unions’ power, Press Release: Public Service Association, Scoop, 26.07.2018

Victims Protection Act supported by White Ribbon scheme, Press Release: White Ribbon, Scoop, 26.07.2018

Domestic violence leave bill good for children, Newstalk ZB, 26.07.2018

Domestic violence bill: Nats on wrong side of history - Greens, Radio NZ, 26.07.2018

Bill allowing leave for domestic violence victims passes third reading, NZ Herald, 25.07.2018

New Zealand grants domestic violence victims paid leave, BBC News, 25.07.2018