New Zealand has passed new legislation which guarantees that the victims of domestic violence have paid leave while escaping an abusive partner. A new bill passed by the country’s legislature is intended to ensure that survivors are supported in the workplace while they make changes at home.
The bill is among some of the world’s first legislation supporting victims that will give survivors the right to ask for 10 days of paid domestic violence leave in addition to sick days and holidays.
The bill was introduced in 2016, and will take effect in 2019. The bill passed with 63 votes to 57.
The legislation’s sponsor, Jan Logie of New Zealand’s Green Party, said the bill benefits everyone.
“We have a massive social problem measured in lives lost, the profound harm done, and significant lost productivity in business. This bill is a win for victims, a win for business and, ultimately, a win for all of us,” she said.
Domestic violence victims do not have to provide proof of their circumstances, and will also be entitled to fast-tracked flexible work conditions designed to ensure their safety, such as changing their work location, changing their email address and having their contact details removed from the business’s website.
“Domestic violence doesn’t respect that split between work and life. A huge amount of research tells us a large number of abusive partners bring the violence into the workplace,” said Logie. “Be that by stalking their partner, by constant emails or phone calls or threatening them or their workmates. And some of that is about trying to break their attachment to their job to get them fired or get them to quit so they are more dependent on their partner. It is very common.”
This is a huge step forward for New Zealand, which has the highest rates of domestic violence in the developed world. The country spends between NZ$4.1 billion and $7 billion a year responding to domestic violence cases, reports The Guardian.
Holly Carrington, a spokeswoman for Shine, a charity helping victims of domestic abuse, said: “It sets a solid benchmark for what businesses are legally required to do and we need to be clear that employers can do this from a perspective of self-interest, because by helping those staff they will be retaining valuable employees and improving productivity.”
Dr Ang Jury, the chief executive of Women’s Refuge said that bill would not immediately stop domestic violence, but would help shift the culture around it while supporting survivors.
“We know women’s economic situation is pivotal to her choices that decides what she can and can’t do,” she told The Guardian. “If she can retain her job and retain the confidence of her employer, whilst still dealing with domestic issues, then that is great news.”
Unpaid Domestic Violence Leave Takes Effect in Australia
Australian workers can also expect new domestic violence leave laws to come into effect from August 1.
From the first full pay period on or after August 1, 2018, many workers will be able to apply for unpaid family and domestic violence leave. The new leave entitlement comes after a recent Fair Work Commission decision, and applies to those covered by an industry or occupation award including casual employees.
According to the Commission’s website, it will be updating all industry and occupation awards to include a new clause allowing employees to take the new form of leave.The new unpaid leave will enable workers to take five days off each year.
Under the Commission’s definition, “family and domestic violence means violent, threatening or other abusive behaviour by an employee’s family member that seeks to coerce or control the employee or causes them harm or fear”.
A family member can include: a spouse or former spouse, de facto partner or former de facto partner, child, parent, grandparent, grandchild, sibling, a worker’s current or former spouse or de facto partner’s child, parent, grandparent, grandchild or sibling, or a person related to the worker according to Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander kinship rules.
There is no requirement for an AVO to be in place. However, there are some good ways to validate the request. The evidence can come in a number of forms; such as a police report, court documents, a note from a family violence support service, or a statutory declaration.
The Turnbull Government will be introducing legislation in the next parliamentary sitting to ensure all workers covered by the Fair Work Act will have access to five days family and domestic violence leave.
This will extend coverage to an extra six million workers who won’t be immediately covered from August 1.