New Zealand: paid leave for domestic violence victims?
March 6, 2017 3 comments
Lawmakers in New Zealand are set to discuss the possibility of giving paid leave to victims of domestic violence.
The country’s Parliament will debate a measure proposed by Green Party MP Jan Logie this week. If this is adopted, domestic violence would be classified as a workplace hazard and would therefore allow victims to take up to ten days of additional paid leave from work.
Prior to the introduction of Logie’s bill, New Zealand-based charity Women’s Refuge published a study on the effects of domestic violence on working people. A survey of 450 victims found that a majority – over 60 per cent – were employed full-time before they began an abusive relationship. However, little more than 27 per cent kept their jobs throughout the time they were with a violent partner.
Abusers often try to exert control over their partners by stopping them from working one way or another, Logie said. Jobs give victims an income and “work colleagues who may be supportive” so “it’s a common thing for the abuser to want to break that relationship and increase the dependence” she explained.
Prime Minister Bill English has already confirmed he will not support the measure because there is nothing stopping employers from offering such leave on their own. Meanwhile, Workplace Relations Minister Michael Woodhouse said that while he was sympathetic to it, there would be significant costs if it was enacted.
But Logie believes that it is the government’s responsibility to provide “an even playing field across the country” for domestic violence victims.
“It shouldn’t be luck whether you’ve got an employer who understands and has got these policies in place.”
Despite resistance from members of the government, the bill has received support from a number of employers. One of these was professional organisation Business NZ, who said the idea was worth a closer look. Workplaces which already offer leave to victims tend to be larger companies so it would be a good idea to find out what the costs of such legislation would be to smaller businesses, the group suggested.
Photo of the New Zealand Parliament in Wellington by Bruce Tuten via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence.
March 6, 2017
Categories: Family Law