Domestic violence: no longer a private affair

Green Party MP, Jan Logie, has introduced a Bill before Parliament to help victims of domestic violence in their employment. Parliamentary unity was present with all MPs voting for it in the first reading of the Bill. This is demonstrative of the profound presence domestic violence has in New Zealand and the need to support victims of domestic violence.

The Bill empowers domestic violence victims to escape their perpetrators by giving up to 10 days of paid leave from employers to help them organise housing, attend to their children’s needs, counselling, court hearings and consult with lawyers. Additionally, employers can arrange flexible working arrangements with the domestic violence victim.

The Bill requires employers to have a domestic violence policy. Some larger employers already have domestic violence policies in place, such as ANZ. ANZ senior Human Resources manager, Gina McJarrow said, “It’s counterintuitive but it costs very little. The cost of losing someone to sick leave, turnover or unexplained absences, lower performance and disengagement… all of those add up. Providing paid special leave is not as expensive as you might think.”  However, smaller businesses may not be of the same opinion.

 

The Bill does not limit the amount of paid leave the employee can claim within a certain period. This will be of concern to employers however clarity may be provided over time.

This bill amends the Domestic Violence Act 1995, Employment Relations Act 2000, Health and Safety at Work Act 2015, Holidays Act 2003, and Human Rights Act 1993 with a view to enhancing legal protections for victims of domestic violence.

Typically, domestic violence occurs behind closed doors with its effects reflected in all areas of a victim’s life. This Bill assists victims to rebuild their lives by maintaining economic stability and will further reduce the stigma with domestic violence.

 

Article by Penny Kean