Research evidences cost of domestic violence to employers

Image: iStock

Supporting those experiencing domestic violence in the workplace has been highlighted through the recent release of research by the Public Services Association (PSA) and proposed new Member's Bill.

Commissioned by the PSA, the report Productivity Gains from Workplace Protection of Victims of Domestic Violence authored by Sherilee Kahui, Bryan Ku and economist Suzanne Snively, found domestic violence costs employers $368 million a year, which could be avoided through workplace protections.

The report finds providing women with support and workplace protections increases productivity and saves employers costs in recruitment, retention, re-training, health and safety. For every woman whose experience of violence is prevented through a workplace protection, employers can avoid an average of $3,371 in production costs in a particular year.

In an interview on Radio New Zealand's Checkpoint programme, Suzanne Snively said supporting women experiencing domestic violence to stay in employment is critical in reducing the effects of violence, as employment provides a sense of self worth and financial stability, helping women to find a way out of the violent relationship. 

The research has been welcomed by the Human Rights Commission, Families Commission and the Council of Trade Unions. Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner, Jackie Blue said "Work is not solely a source of income that provides for the basic necessities in life, but has the potential to satisfy social, intellectual and personal needs and therefore is integral for a life of human dignity. It is critical to reducing the effects of violence and abuse."

The PSA has been working to highlight the importance of treating family violence as a workplace issue. Resources supporting workplaces to address family violence can be found on the PSA website, including a short video, posters, leaflets and a positive relationship quiz.

The research supports Green MP Jan Logie's proposed Member's Bill Domestic Violence - Victims' Protection. The Bill aims to enhance legal protections for victims of domestic violence through amendment of the Domestic Violence Act 1995, Employment Relations Act 2000, Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992, Holidays Act 2003, and Human Rights Act 1993. The Bill aims to:

  • Protect victims from discrimination on the basis of domestic violence,
  • Allow victims of domestic violence to request flexible working arrangements from their employer if needed,
  • Allow victims of domestic violence to take up to 10 days leave a year related to the violence, and
  • Clarify that domestic violence is a hazard in the workplace that needs to be managed like other hazards.

Members' bills are bills introduced by members who are not ministers. Bills are entered into a ballot and are debated when drawn from the ballot.

Other resources examining domestic and sexual violence and the workplace include:

The Impacts of Domestic Violence on Workers and the Workplace (2013) by Margaret Rayner Thomas, University of Auckland

Genders at Work: Exploring the role of workplace equality in preventing men's violence against women (2013) by Scott Holmes and Michael Flood, White Ribbon Australia

Domestic Violence and the workplace - A TUC Survey Report (2014) by the Trades Union Congress, UK

Report on a scoping study into the effects of sexual violence on employees and the workplace (2014) by Inara Walden & Ludo McFerran, UNSW, Australia

Media:

Spotlight on domestic violence, NZ Herald, 27.05.2014

Domestic abuse bill could backfire, Wairarapa Times-Age, 28.04.2014

Bill to help victims of abuse, Hawkes Bay Today, 07.04.2014

New family violence research welcomed, Voxy, 02.04.2014

HRC welcomes PSA report on family violence, Voxy, 31.03.2014

Domestic violence costs businesses $368m, NZCity, 31.03.2014

Workplaces have a role in reducing domestic violence - CTU, Voxy, 31.03.2014