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Bill to address victims of domestic violence in employment

Bill to provide better support for victims of domestic violence in employment

Domestic abuse charity Shine supports Green MP Jan Logie's Domestic Violence - Victims’ Protection Bill which will allow victims of domestic violence in employment to take paid leave if needed.

Ms Logie’s members’ bill is set down for its first reading on Wednesday and will likely come up for a vote on 8th of March.

A similar law exists in many Australian states and research shows only .02% of employees are using this leave provision. But for that .02%, this leave may make a major difference in helping them to remain employed while going through a crisis.

Shine’s DVFREE workplace programme coordinator Graham Barnes says, “Employment provides critical networks and financial support for many victims of domestic abuse that can be a path to safety. Having this special leave provision enshrined in law will be a minimal cost to employers and potentially have a major impact on those who need it most, allowing them to remain employed – a win-win for the employee in this situation and for their employer.”

Research by Jim Stanford, Ph.D. of Centre for Future Work at the Australia Institute (December 2016) shows that the status quo is not ‘free’; cost of domestic violence to employers includes lost work time, (even if unpaid) reduced productivity, higher turnover and resulting recruitment and training costs, risks of violence spilling over into the workplace, reputational risks with customers and other employees. Domestic violence appears to cost about one percent of gross domestic product every year.

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Mr Barnes adds, “Provision of special leave for employees who experience domestic violence should only be a first step. We urge employers to put in place a sustainable programme, as we recommend through DVFREE, that truly creates a workplace that is safe and supportive for staff in these situations.”

Shine has been assisting employers for many years to create workplaces that are safe and supportive for victims of domestic abuse through DVFREETM. DVFREE recommends and supports employers to create family violence policy, to raise awareness amongst their staff and to provide training for key staff so they can support employees who disclose abuse safely and effectively.

Family violence is one of New Zealand’s biggest human right issues. One in three New Zealand women are physically or sexually abused by an intimate partner in their lifetime. But this is not just an issue that affects women, men are sometimes victims too. Rates of intimate partner violence in LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay Bisexual Transgender and Queer) couples are on par with rates in heterosexual couples.

Stanford’s research also finds:

· The costs of providing 10 days special domestic violence related leave per year are negligible
· 15% of all paid employees in Australia (1.6 million workers) already have paid leave for domestic violence
· Concerns that victims might abuse extra leave offered were unjustified; most victims are reluctant to use services available to them currently, and need encouragement to take those measures. Average leave periods were rarely reported to be longer than a week
· Opposition to the leave proposals wrongly assumed a high rate of utilisation-that 25% of all women 10% of all men would use the entire 10 days every year; in fact, the utilisation rate of domestic violence paid leave in Australia where available is actually 0.022%-0.31%
· Between one quarter and one fifth of female victims take paid leave when available; male victims are half as likely to take leave as female victims
· Benefits to employers of paid domestic violence leave include reduced absenteeism, reduced turnover, improved productivity, and reduced incidence of violence
· Costs of replacing a single employee are estimated at $20,000 (advertising, interviewing, hiring, training, ramping up)


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