Warehouse Group establishes workplace protections for victims of family violence
Mon 05 Oct 2015
The Warehouse Group has launched a new initiative supporting employees who are victims of family violence. The Family Violence - It's Not OK ...
The Warehouse Group has launched a new initiative supporting employees who are victims of family violence.
The Family Violence - It's Not OK initiative provides for up to 10 days paid leave per year for victims of family violence. This is in addition to existing leave entitlements and is to enable victims to attend medical appointments, legal proceedings or other needs resulting from family violence. Employees are also able to apply for unpaid leave to support a family violence victim who requires accompanying to court, a medical provider, or to care for children. The initiative also includes mechanisms to support victims of family violence to have flexibility and protection from harassment at work.
Paul Walsh, the Group General Manager Community and the Environment says the initiative "makes clear that family violence is not OK, but that asking for help is, and [the employee] will be supported by the company’s human resources procedures." He said the company will work closely with professional agencies to support victims and perpetrators of family violence.
The initiative was warmly welcomed by Women's Refuge. Chief Executive Dr Ang Jury said "Women experiencing domestic violence often find holding down work very difficult. They may experience violence while they are at work (through stalking) or need to take time off to deal with their injuries, or those of their family members. However, having stable employment is a critical factor in their ability to eventually leave their violent relationship. By the Warehouse acknowledging that domestic and family violence is unacceptable and putting in measures to protect and support their employees, it is making a significant difference to those whose lives are shattered by violence."
The Green Party also congratulated the Warehouse Group on acting on workplace domestic violence issues. It also called for the Government to pick up the Domestic Violence – Victims’ Protection Bill proposed by MP Jan Logie. The Bill aims to enhance legal protections for victims of domestic violence through amendments of existing legislation. Jan Logie said "... it should not be left to the good will and good business sense of individual employers such as The Warehouse Group to support workers who experience domestic violence. The Government needs to legislate to ensure all employers treat domestic violence as a human rights issue and put measures in place to support and protect staff experiencing or at risk of domestic violence."
The Warehouse Group is New Zealand's largest retailer and includes The Warehouse, Warehouse Stationary, Noel Leeming, Torpedo 7 and the company's online retailers. The Warehouse Group joins Australian companies such as Telstra and Virgin Australia in implementing workplace policies which provide for victims of family violence.
The economic impact of domestic violence was also the focus of debate at the 2015 Annual Women's Debate held at the Royal Society of New Zealand in July. The debate panel included Greens co-leader James Shaw, National MP Alastair Scott, Labour MP Kelvin Davis and New Zealand First Party Leader Rt. Hon Winston Peters. The panel were asked to speak about the economic impacts of domestic violence and how their party intended to respond to the report recommendations.
Suzanne Snively said, "Workplaces provide a major impetus for breaking the cycle. They can be places for collegiality and innovation. When they are, staff are actually team members who work together to provide the quality services and goods in an environment that epitomises people-culture, productivity and profitability. These, in turn, are the factors that drive economic prosperity in New Zealand. [...] But, experience in New Zealand to date indicates that there are barriers to the implementation of work place protections due to some employer attitudes. These barriers are due in part to ongoing denial about what for them is a hidden problem. Those employers commonly articulate a misunderstanding of the effectiveness of workplace Health and Safety initiatives, overstating the direct costs of new initiatives and understating the more dispersed benefits of both cost savings and productivity gains."
The debate was hosted by the Zonta Club of Wellington, Graduate Women, Wellington and the New Zealand National Council of Women, Wellington.
Further Information and Resources:
Intimate partner violence and the workplace (New Zealand Family Violence Clearinghouse Issues Paper, November 2014). This paper summarises New Zealand and international research and resources on workplace responses to intimate partner violence. It discusses: why workplaces are an ideal place for intervention and raising awareness about intimate partner violence, barriers to action by workplaces, and local and international examples of strategies to support employees experiencing intimate partner violence.
Productivity Gains from Workplace Protection of Victims of Domestic Violence (Sherilee Kahui, Bryan Ku and Suzanne Snively, 2014). This report found domestic violence costs employers $368 million a year, avoidable through workplace protections.
Measuring the Economic Costs of Child Abuse and Intimate Partner Violence to New Zealand (Sherilee Kahui & Suzanne Snively, 2014).
Victorian public sector employees will be entitled to family violence leave following changes announced on 17 August 2015. A family violence leave best practice model clause will be included in all Victorian public sector enterprise agreements.
The University of New South Wales' Gendered Violence Research Network hosts a Gendered Violence and Work program which provides comprehensive, in-depth, gender-sensitive and tailored workplace strategies to address the effects of domestic, family and sexual violence on employees and the organisation. In addition to research, the program offers customised advisory and training services.