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Domestic violence is a work issue

Written By: - Date published: 8:30 am, April 1st, 2014 - 88 comments
Categories: business, discrimination, families, health and safety, workers' rights - Tags: , ,

We can now put a dollar figure – a conservative, probably-underestimated figure – on the cost of domestic violence to New Zealand business.

That’s due to a report commissed by the Public Service Association, released yesterday in conjunction with a Member’s Bill from Green MP Jan Logie which will change our law to protect victims of domestic violence at work, and support their employers to help them out.

And incidentally, it could save businesses $368 million per year.

It’s often hard to explain to people why they should care about ‘other people’s problems’. Even on the left, issues like domestic violence or marriage equality can get filed away under ‘women’s issues’ or ‘gay issues’. In a political discussion dominated by right-wing ideas about individuals and ‘bad choices’, it’s even easier for horrific issues like domestic violence to get swept aside.

Even though one in three women will experience domestic violence, we treat it as a private personal issue. It’s about the woman – or man – who’s being victimized. Their circumstances, their ‘choices’, their individual struggle to get out of a terrible situation.

So as clinical as it may seem, it’s important to have this kind of hard evidence to show people. If for no other reason, you should care about addressing intimate partner violence because it does affect you. It affects our communities and our workplaces. It has a provable, financial cost to business – and at the same time, the workplace can be one of the best supports a person has to get out of an abusive situation.

We know this kind of intervention and support works. We can see it working in Australia, where although they don’t have legislation, the union movement have fought hard to get domestic violence clauses into collective agreements covering over 700,000 workers.

The great thing is that Jan Logie’s bill is a win for everyone. It’s a win for victims of domestic violence who get support and security in a tough time. It’s a win for businesses who get healthier, happier, more productive workers (and the warm fuzzy feelings of having done something good and noble in the world). And it’s a win for all of us. Because we get to say we live in a country which does the right thing for people in awful situations. And we get to remember that no person is an island. We all stand together, and we’re so much better for it than if we stand apart.

88 comments on “Domestic violence is a work issue ”

  1. Tracey 1


    I can recall in the late 80’s and 90’s when I was working on gender equity pay issues, the best way to get “buy in” from businesses and others was to state it in economic terms.

    In law, for example, 95% of the top 5% graduates from law school in the late 80’s and early 90’s were women. We told firms that by ignoring women they were losing the cream of the potential earning crop.

    Sometimes it doesnt matter WHY someone makes a change for the better, what their motivation is, as long as they make the change. Sadly, that very often means in financial terms.

    • weka 1.1

      “Sometimes it doesnt matter WHY someone makes a change for the better, what their motivation is, as long as they make the change.”

      I disagree. The legislation looks good, and yes we need good research, so long as we get a wide range of research on the issue. But when we start defining women as capitalist units we are in serious trouble. We run the risk of that becoming the main argument and shifting our cultural values. Look at how NZ has shifted culturally from a high value on conservation, for its own sake, to one where we need to fund conservation because of economics and potential loss of our clean green image. I think we should be resisting the imposed ideas of humans as economic units. No reason why the research can’t be done and be useful, but we need to also resist the idea that the only way to change is to yield to the patriarchal agenda.

      • Tracey 1.1.1

        When i was a younger woman at high school and then university i thought men discriminated against women because iof some concsious desitre to exclude them. this is only partially true. insofar as it is founded on ignorance i learned that people cant know what they dont know. so education is key but so is experience. until some ignorant men began hiring women and working with them they could not shed their bias borne of ignorance.for some that came when they realised they were harming their business through their bias. however once hired they viewed women differently, but in my profession the bias remained in salary discrepancies. you dont win the war very often after only one battle.

        same goes for my experience of being a gay woman in a pretty conservative workplace. in the large firm of 35 partners and then in the smaller with two partners.

        a friend of mine was an out gay woman at the first. people then assumed we were together. wghatever may have been said behind hands i dont know but the two partners i later worked for split from that firm. both staunch catholics and wgen they asked me to work for them, they invited my partner to every firm function and friday drinks.

        i like to think they got to know me and i didnt meet their pre conceived fears of what a gay person would be like. i seriously doubt that sexuality was an issue for them in employment again. not because i am a miracle whiz but because by being me and gay it dispells preconceptions.

        i have found that my entire life.

        parents of a friend of mine are staunch methodists. their views on gays were very boigotted and my friend was in the closet. but my partner of 23 years and i were not. over the years we spent many fun times with them and my partner helped them fibd a new home. when the methodist schism happened a few years ago over homosexuality they sided with homosexuals. they told us before meeting us they would not.

        • weka

          Good stories, thanks Tracey. Positive cultural change. Are you suggesting that the research and the Bill will support such change? (I would conditionally agree). I still think there is a problem with focus as per my comment above. Perhaps I missed some of your point?

          • Tracey

            I rambled, you didn’t miss my point, I think I lost it along the way… and my android was playing up so … all in all…

            I was just supporting one notion of change which includes financial BUT not the treating of women as economic units per se.

            I am a supporter of quotas, for the reasons I outlined above, namely that quotas force people to accept into their workplaces those they usually wouldn’t, and to see how they actually are, as opposed to how their ignorant viewpoint perceives them. I think that was probably more my point.

            many men dont support quota for women or for non-white folks. I have seen a study and I wish I could put my hands on it, which showed that

            white men in hiring positions hired more white men than they hired black men or wwomen;

            black men in hiring positions would hire white men, and black men and women in higher percentages than white men ;and

            women in hiring positions hired more black men and women, and still many white men than both groups.

            So while there is an element of “like hiring like”, women, according tot hat study, and black men, hired more “unlike” themselves than white men.

  2. Thanks, Tracey, that’s exactly the point I was making. It’s not new, but sometimes we have to repeat these things until they sink it.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 2.1

      They never sink in: more incompetent wingnuts are being born all the time. It’s a constant struggle, like any other “rights” issue.

      • Tracey 2.1.1

        not true.

        in my experience those of the left have more of an ability to walk in anothers shoes without having the experience themselves, those on the right tend to think the world is for everyone as it is for them… when they experience the world differently, through people they meet, they tend to view the world slightly differently.

        getting them to cross paths with folks outside their comfort zone is the challenge.

        YES the above is a generalisation with exceptions

        • One Anonymous Bloke

          I’m not saying wingnuts can’t learn to recognise reality, I’m saying that there are always more being born and their attitudes, driven by neural physiology and IQ (among other things). present the same challenges generation after generation.

          That said, there are areas of slow general improvement.

          • Tracey

            and yet my brother who fits the RMNJ label, voted greens in his first two elections, then labour and not until he was 5 years into running his own business did he move to the position he takes today which, in a nutshell is

            “I work really hard for my money and I employ lots of people, and I shouldn’t have to support people who dont work hard”. It presumes he works harder than others. He works hard, but not more so than some of his waged employees… unlike them he takes long weekends to his bach. travels overseas with his wife at least twice a year and so on. has he earned it, yes, I dont begrudge him it. I begrudge him the superior holier than thou position he has given himself to be judge and jury over those who had far less help along the way than he did… including our father paying off his mortgage on his home when he started his business so he could concentrate on building his business without a worry of a roof over his head and that of his children.

  3. karol 3

    Great post.

    In a political discussion dominated by right-wing ideas about individuals and ‘bad choices’, it’s even easier for horrific issues like domestic violence to get swept aside.

    Even though many on the right proclaim “the family” as the centre piece of society, they don’t look at the extent of abuse going on in households, nor the economic and social impacts.

    • Draco T Bastard 3.1

      I sometimes get the impression from the RWNJs that their cry the family is more of a declaration that what they do to their families is none of anyone else’s business. In other words, they use it to hide the abuse.

      • One Anonymous Bloke 3.1.1

        Nah, it’s just dogwhistle code for homophobia.

        • Certainly it’s a plea to ‘traditional’ conservative values. The irony of course for anyone who’s watched Mad Men or Peyton Place or similar is that we know those traditional values were as illusory then as they are now!

      • Tracey 3.1.2

        they dont mean the family they mean my family and families that look like my family. ironically many of these families have kids doing e and class a drugs recreationally while mum and dad pay for clothes trips to fiji and the irony may be lost on them as they bemoan the imaginary bludgers of society

  4. Bill 4

    So, I’m struggling with this a bit. From the Jan Logie link

    This makes the workplace a primary place for intervention.

    The operation of the protections in the Bill will result in employers and others acquiring personal information about the domestic circumstances of victims. Under the Privacy Act 1993, the persons holding the information must not disclose it, except in tightly controlled instances.

    Surely it’s not just me who is experiencing a sense of disquiet here.

    I fully understand that economic surety could and/or would make a big difference in many cases of abuse. But I’m also aware that workplace environments and the economic pressures of the market system can be, and are, contributory factors in many instances of domestic violence.

    So… there is something very unsettling about legislating for something that would seem, at first glance, to cede the social responsibility of society to bosses, workplaces and corporates, while assuming, or so it would appear, that they play no negative part in the creation of domestic violence.

    If the cause of violence was simply individual ‘bad apples’ and not systemic, then sure. But yeah…getting an echo of “we break your legs and you say ‘thankyou!’ as we offer you crutches”

    • karol 4.1

      I can’t find the exact extract you’ve quoted at the Jan Logie link, Bill

      • Bill 4.1.1

        Ah. My bad. The Jan Logie quote comes from one of the links at the bottom of the page on the PSA media release link. To save you jumping through pages… https://www.greens.org.nz/bills/domestic-violence-victims-protection-bill

        • karol

          OK. Thanks. There are privacy protections apparently built into it. It’s not clear how much detail the employers get. this is what is indicated:

          personal information about the domestic circumstances of victims

          I understand employers would need to know something about the domestic violence in order to make provisions and allowances.

          The Bill includes things like requests to the employer for leave due to domestic violence issues. The employer can refuse the request. The employee can contest that, etc. So, there needs to be some way to ascertain that the employee has been the victim of domestic violence.

          I can’t see how that judgement is made and by whom. I can’t see any privacy safeguards in the amendments – maybe they need to be added?

    • I think you’re conflating a lot of things here, Bill, so pardon me if I’ve misinterpreted you.

      Yes, on a wide view, the economic pressures of living in a capitalist system can contribute to domestic violence, e.g. because victims of violence lack the financial means or security to leave – which is something this bill addresses. And there can be huge social pressure on survivors not to disclose their situation – which if you watch the video linked in the second-to-last paragraph, is something which these kind of employment clauses can actually help, too.

      It might help if you described the specific ways you think workplace environments/economic pressures contribute to domestic violence.

      I also see no need to read this bill as ‘ceding social responsibility’. We can keep doing all the things and providing all the support (and more, because what we currently do is pretty woeful and poorly supported by government) that we currently do to survivors of domestic violence, AND we can acknowledge that paid work is one significant area where a difference can be made.

      I think your analogy of leg-breaking is really inappropriate given the subject matter, and conflates the role of individual abusers, the system, and the ways we can work within the current system to help people.

      I’m not willing to stand back and say ‘let’s not do this’ just because it involves working within the power structures and exploitative relationships that we all have to live under in a capitalist society. That seems to me to be your main objection. It would be great if you could clarify that.

      • Chooky 4.2.1

        .”Yes, on a wide view, the economic pressures of living in a capitalist system can contribute to domestic violence, e.g. because victims of violence lack the financial means or security to leave – ”

        ….a very good reason for a Universal Basic Income

      • Bill 4.2.2

        It might help if you described the specific ways you think workplace environments/economic pressures contribute to domestic violence

        That you feel the need to ask such a thing is quite frightening. Are you seriously implying, or suggesting that you think or believe, that neither workplace environments nor economic pressures warp human beings to a terrible degree; that they do not produce or force all manner of undesirable responses or behavioural traits in individuals?

        As for working within existing structures, sure, we can do that. But hows about we also recognise the nature and impact of those existing structures, instead of blithely lauding them as a source of solutions?

        As for pointing out the inherent hypocrisy of a system (and sorry for the anthropomorphing) that causes damage and that then expects gratitude when it offers some remedial measure for the damage it causes and will continue to cause, well sure – maybe the breaking of minds and the offering of happy pills would have made for better references.

        I should probably point out about now in case you miss it, that I adhere to the idea that our environment creates behaviours….call it adaptation on an individual level if you will. And I say that in conjunction with not dismissing or excusing any individual who ‘acts out’ in a particular or damaging way. I do however acknowledge that if we were to (say) jail all of the people who inflict domestic violence on 1 in 3 women, then the nature of the system (our environment) is such that that vacuum would be filled with violent offenders to a similar extent to what it was before.

        We often say, at least on an individual level, that we reap what we sow. On a societal level, I’d add that some of us also get reaped by what we’ve sown (as a society). Now, we can apply elastoplasts and provide crutches and pass any amount of punitive or preventative legislation, but until we tackle the root causes of our malaise, the need for ‘crisis management’ strategies on domestic violence or any other number of deleterious human dynamics is just going to go on and on and on.

        • karol

          I think it is the wider society that makes domestic violence more likely – far wider than the workplace. There is hardly anywhere to go outside it.

          • Bill

            I agree it’s far wider than the workplace. Sorry. Didn’t mean to suggest that ‘everything’ was just down to ‘the evil workplace’. But since the post was focusing on the workplace as a positive location for dealing with domestic violence when in reality it’s often a negative place that makes contributions towards domestic violence…

            • weka

              Might be a problem with using the term workplace so generically. Plus the differences for women and men.

              Bill I wonder if you are suggesting that the whole boss/employee structure creates conditions that contribute to domestic violence, whereas others might see that some boss/employee situations are good and others negative. While it’s pretty clear that many people are hugely negatively affected by how work is organised, it looks like you and Stephanie are talking about different things.

              “but until we tackle the root causes of our malaise, the need for ‘crisis management’ strategies on domestic violence or any other number of deleterious human dynamics is just going to go on and on and on.”

              I doubt that anyone here is in disagreement about that. I haven’t looked closely at the proposed Bill, I’m not yet convinced that the privacy issues or workplace dymanics would be handled well, and I’d be interested to see who has input in developing it, but assuming it gets written well I can’t see how the existence of the legislation prevents more systemic approaches.

              • karol

                I also know of at least one woman who saw her workplace as a refuge from domestic violence.

                The root causes will take a long time changing. Meanwhile, people are having to live with the impact of such violence.

                I too am worried about the privacy issues.

                I think the union could be an advocate for victims/survivors, providing a privacy barrier between the employee and the employer.

                After I had my accident and was being supported by ACC provisions, I did find that I had to deal with some quite intrusive questioning. But, at least I wasn’t bothered about my managers knowing the details of my injuries. It would be much harder to talk with managers about domestic violence and an employee’s domestic circunstances.

                • weka

                  I would hope that a letter from a GP would be sufficient to access things like time off. No need for details. But my concern would be that people in unsupportive workplaces might be pressured to supply information with the manager/boss still making an arbitrary decision, esp in non-unionised workplaces. Lots of potential for more power and control bullshit. On the other hand, in another area completely I’ve been surprised a few times recently at compassion displayed by people working in quite bureaucratic situations when faced with someone with an illness. Gave me some hope about NZ not being totally mired in the painter on the roof meme. So maybe the benefits will far outweigh the problems? I suspect that it would work for some sectors and not others.

                • Chooky

                  ..the whole idea sounds good in theory…but just off the top of my head and without looking at the proposal deeply i can see problems

                  …if women who have children or who are thinking of having children are discriminated against and also those who have accessed ACC are discriminated against … how much worse will it be to be known as a victim of domestic abuse.?… how would it look on your CV for example?… I can imagine men who are victims of domestic violence would be even less likely to come forward.

                  ..also there is the problem of proof required for time off….and this is hard enough with ACC

                  ….another issue I see is that an unscrupulous employer could take advantage of such an employee and victimise them further ( just as some psychologists and doctors have done …admittedly rare ….but it has happened)

                  • weka

                    Time off… how is this different for time off for ill health? What level of detail is required for a medical certificate for that?

                    • Chooky

                      ..it is a much more murky area than a broken arm or a bad flu…and it is not “ill health” as is commonly thought of

                      …it gets into areas of definitions of abuse /violence ?….psychological abuse? ….complicity?…dual abuse? …some would say being forced to work is a form of psychological abuse/violence …ha ha

                    • karol

                      For domestic violence I would recommend a neutral advocate/agency or that he employee could talk to confidentially – they would provide a certificate to state the employee needed time off work, eetc..

                    • Richard McGrath

                      No detail is required, just confirmation that the person is unfit for work. I have written many such certificates for people with psychological problems post-trauma; more often they can be covered for loss of earnings by ACC.

                    • weka

                      Chooky, I wasn’t saying that domestic abuse is ‘ill health’, I was pointing out that we deal with a complex issue already in an employment context. I object to your characterisation and minimisation of the needs of ill people by saying it’s just a broken leg or whatever. People with complex health needs and situations get medical certificates too and need levels of privacy and decency beyond people with a broken limb or flu.

                    • Chooky

                      @ weka …i am also saying it is a complex issue….and am certainly not minimizing it…just saying it is a lot more complex than a broken arm or bad flu….so complex in fact that many are likely NOT to go to a doctor to report it …more likely they would tell a family member, a best friend or the women’s refuge…and certainly they would be reluctant to tell an employer or want an employer to intrude

        • RedBaronCV

          “I should probably point out about now in case you miss it, that I adhere to the idea that our environment creates behaviours….c”

          Most of these people have been bullies right back to their schooldays and many of them come from “good circumstances” Others in the family don’t bully so while enviroment may determine some of the inputs and outcomes, depending on socio economic class, mainly it seems to be an individual failing right from childhood based on who knows what. These are people who want their own way no matter what they have to do to get it.

          • Bill

            I don’t really see ‘good’ or bad’ individual circumstances, as we generally and broadly define them, as being determining factors.

            Put monkeys in a manufactured, limiting environment where they cannot develop and exhibit their ‘natural habitat’ tendencies. Give some bananas (or whatever) and some none (ie, construct some semblance of ‘better’ and ‘not so good’ within the environment). All the monkeys will be behaviourally fucked up regardless. Some will adapt better to their conditions than others. But it’s not the case that the better adapted ones are necessarily the more sane ones. The environment they are adapting to is, after all, insane.

            Factor in that there is no clear dividing line between what constitutes internal and external environments (nature and nurture) and, it would seem to me, the best we can do is observe behaviour across society and alter our social environments accordingly and relation to the incidence of undesirable or destructive behavioural traits.

            Then acknowledge that some behaviours or habits persist or ripple through generations (eg, those resulting from trauma) and will be likely be exhibited in one form or another for years, though, if we get it right, progressively less markedly, regardless of how our society is configured or structured.

            There’s no quick fix. We don’t don’t get to tear down the cage and suddenly discover a world comprised of positive, creative, healthy and highly functioning humans. And the longer we leave it…

            Anyway. I realise that as a species we will probably do sweet fuck all and stumble and crawl around in our current predicaments until the cows come home.

        • Bill, you’re extrapolating a heck of a lot from my question, and that disappoints me. My post is clearly discussing the relationship between domestic violence and the workplace from the perspective of the victim, the person who is experiencing violence and for whom the workplace can be a shelter and a path to escaping their situation.

          You’ve jumped in and, without clearly explaining what you’re talking about, started to discuss domestic violence from the point of view of the abuser: how our society and capitalism creates conditions of violence. It’s quite clearly a separate-but-related topic to the post. You really can’t just completely change the direction of the conversation without giving everyone a heads-up. It’s inevitably going to lead to confusion, and talking at cross-purposes.

          There is really no need for you to adopt shocked ‘I can’t believe you don’t know what I’m talking about’ language when you have not clearly explained what you’re talking about, and once again I have to say there is no need to keep using physical violence and harm as metaphors when we are discussing LITERAL violence and harm.

          As to the wider causes of domestic violence and the ‘root causes of our malaise’, I’m going to repeat myself: I will not stand by and tell the PSA and Jan Logie to stop talking about this just because there are wider issues which also need addressing. Trying to mitigate the awful consequences of our current system does not mean buying into the system. We can do both.

          • Bill

            You specifically asked how workplace environments/economic pressures contribute to domestic violence. I responded in a fairly straightforward fashion, I thought, by expressing my genuine bewilderment that the question would even be asked.

            Anyway. Can you point to where I’ve discussed domestic violence from the perspective of the abuser? I thought I was quite clearly observing the fact that work environments are systemically abusive and then simply questioning the wisdom of locating solutions in that same systemically abusive environment.

            I don’t know why you bring up the fact that some people find relief from abuse in the workplace.Of course they do. But that doesn’t make workplaces suddenly benign any more than it would make alcohol harmless if an abused person was to turn to the bottle for escape. But maybe I’m missing something?

            As for my mentioning psychological harm in reference to work environments…what’s the problem again? They routinely inflict massive psychological damage on people….for all of their working life’s. Would you prefer that fact was skirted around or that it simply wasn’t mentioned?

            I agree with you that neither Jan Logie nor the PSA nor anyone else stop talking about this and that it’s incumbent on us (as ever) to do ‘this’ and also ‘that’…ie, deal with the cards we have been dealt in the less than perfect situation we are in, but also to push at that less than perfect situation and not just accept it as an inevitable reality.

            • Stephanie Rodgers

              Bill, I don’t know if you’re deliberately misreading me or not. Nobody is saying all workplaces are benign. Nobody is saying workplaces aren’t oppressive. Nobody is accepting harmful work environments as an ‘inevitable reality’.

              You have butted in to a conversation about helping people, in situations where the workplace can be positive – making the best of the situation and by no means denying the issues which work stress can create – and started lecturing about what the ‘real’ harm is or the ‘real’ root cause. You didn’t explain yourself clearly in your first post and seem to think it’s my fault for not magically knowing that you were discussing a completely different facet of the topic.

              I, and others, have brought up the fact people find ‘relief’ at work because that’s the whole point of this post!

              If your intention isn’t to make it sound like you’re dismissing this issue, you have failed in the execution. If you want to discuss how workplaces can contribute to wider societal issues, I can only suggest you do a separate post on it, instead of derailing mine.

              As for discussing from the perspective of the abuser, that’s exactly what you’ve done by taking a post which is about helping victims and saying ‘whatever, the bigger issue is about how workplaces are contributory factors to abuse’. This ignores victims and re-centres the abuser and the causes of their behaviour.

              • Bill

                Okay, so I know it’s a consultation doc. and I’ve only had a quick look at it. But even so, the massive onus being put on the employee and the wise open ‘get outs’ for employers…..As it stands, nothing changes. If you have a reasonable employer, they’d help you out as things currently stand, and any less than reasonable employer (there are many) can just opt out…but trawl personal info and stress the employee in the process if they want to…and many will want to – to get rid of an employee who is bringing discord into the workplace.

                (Section 69ABB) So 12 months between any request. A minimum of 6 months in employment. The employee must lay out a possible and detailed scenario for the employer which, given that employees will not have assess to operational matters…
                The employee must provide a copy of the Domestic Violence Document (I don’t know what that is, but it suggests very intimate info/details being given to an employer)

                And the employer has 3 months to repond!

                (Section 69ABD) The employer can refuse a request if the employer determines that (worth noting that agreement or consultation isn’t required) the request can’t be accommodated because of any of the following :

                an inability to reorganise work among existing staff
                an inability to recruit additional staff
                the potential for a detrimental impact on quality
                the potential for a detrimental impact on performance
                the potential for a detrimental impact on ability to meet customer demand
                insufficiency of work during the period the employee proposes to work
                planned structural changes
                the burden of additional costs

                And an employer must refuse the request of the employee is bound by a CEA and arrangements would be inconsistent with that agreement.

                Appeal is to the Labour Inspector in the first instance, which is bizarre in my opinion, and then mediation…which is a whole ball of stress in its own right for many employees, never mind those already dealing with domestic violence.

                There was also something on bringing domestic violence under a definition of ‘discrimination’ in the Human Rights Act. I really doubt that one will ever fly.

                10 days paid leave is good though.


                • weka

                  It looks to me like the act is designed to put some rights in statute (time off), and offer a structure by which employees and employers can access support to protect the employee.

                  In the preamble, it lays out pretty clearly what the multiple points of the legislation are. Those both strike me as being new things (how many good employers are going to offer paid time off work currently? I would guess most people have to use their sick days first).

                  “The employee must lay out a possible for scenario for the employer which, given that employees will not have assess to operational matters…”

                  Or someone can do it on their behalf.

                  RE domestic violence document –

                  “(I don’t know what that is, but it suggests very intimate info/details being given to an employer)”

                  No it doesn’t. This is interesting, that people assume that the people setting up this system would be unaware of that issue (you’re not the only one in the thread to have done that). I do still think there are privacy issues, but documenting the need to invoke the legislation doesn’t require intimate details being provided to the employer. Why are people assuming that?

                  Here’s the proposed definition –

                  domestic violence document means—
                  “(a) a police report confirming attendance at an incident in-
                  volving domestic violence;

                  or “(b) a record of a police caution relating to domestic vio-

                  or “(c) a record of criminal proceedings for an offence relating
                  to domestic violence;

                  or “(d) a record of a conviction for an offence relating to do-
                  mestic violence;

                  or “(e) a record of a court’s finding of fact of domestic violence
                  against a person by another person;

                  or “(f) a court order relating to domestic violence;

                  or “(g) a report from a medical practitioner stating that a per-
                  son has injuries or a condition consistent with having
                  suffered domestic violence;

                  or “(h) a report from a domestic violence support organisation
                  relating to a person who has suffered domestic violence;

                  or “(i) any other document prescribed in regulations made
                  under this Act”.

                  • Bill

                    10 days paid domestic violence leave is, as I said, a good thing and much better than using up sick days or stat days or annual leave.

                    The fact that the employee must provide a detailed proposition is problematic simply because neither employees nor anyone writing up a request for them, will usually have access to the businesses operational details.

                    The get outs for employers…well, you could drive a bus through any supposed obligations that are being placed on the employer. As I noted, unreasonable employers could easily turn this whole thing on its head and use it to further traumatise victims of domestic abuse to get rid of them. And I have to say, that from my experience with employers, there are many who will contemplate using it that way.

                    Other wee details that came to my notice is that the domestic violence must be ‘registered’ in some fashion. So, turning up to work with bruises or exhibiting psychological trauma just wont mean a thing under this proposal. Anyone accessing any of this must have reported the abuse to the police or be involved with a recognised abuse support agency. That’s going to leave a whole lot of abused people ‘out of the loop’. And that an employer must refer any such people to a support agency…well, smacks of coercion. Not everyone who is abused wants outside counseling or support and would possibly be fine if they could simply get some lee-way from their boss so that they could deal with things. The prospect of being forced into a support system will mean such people get denied any helpful workplace flexibility in many cases.

                    I also don’t quite get that union reps and trained H&S reps receive training on supporting victims of domestic abuse. Putting aside that people in either of those positions may themselves be abusers, isn’t it a case of people either having empathy or not having empathy? Training people just because of the position they occupy smacks of a certain mickey mouseness. Surely far better to provide or mandate training for people who are already to some degree aware or sympathetic, no?

      • miravox 4.2.3

        It’s important that the workplace remains as safe after an domestic violence incident as it was before that incident. This means the employer may need to take certain steps to keep the employee safe and not standby if the victim is harassed. Certainly it’s important that measures are included in workplace legislation that allow for unpaid leave and some other measures to allow the victim to deal with the domestic violence in their domestic lives (similarly if an employee has other really difficult domestic circumstances to deal with e.g. a parent with a child diagnosed with cancer).

        To legislate to ensure employer allow a bit of time specifically for victims of domestic violence, because this is not covered elsewhere is something I have no problem with at all – to protect a victim (at work e.g. by actively intervening when an abusive partner may approach the employee), provide space for resolution (e.g. time off to manage children, seek protection, time-out or move home and legal advice) and to enable employment to continue through a difficult time shouldn’t need legislation in a socially empathetic world, but in this one it does, imo.

        I do however, object to that phrase bill quoted “This makes the workplace a primary place for intervention”. The immediate place for intervention is the domestic sphere – that is where the hidden spaces are that allow this violence to fester and erupt, whatever the initial causes. I find it depressing that attempts to improve the conditions of domestic violence are reduced to the monetary benefit of an employer. That this is legislation cannot happen in tandem with measures that de-stress domestic environments, the real primary places of intervention – i.e intervene for improvements in work, social and cultural situations, and in encouragement of violence-free behaviours.

        Good work, Jan and all that… but it is an ambulance at the bottom of the cliff. A damn sad reflection that this might be the best we can get from a world that really doesn’t give a damn.

    • The Chairman 4.3

      Well spotted, Bill.

      Regardless of the good intentions, this bill will allow employers to intervene in employees private lives.

      • I disagree. The bill creates the opportunity for employees to seek help if they need and want it. It also builds the idea that all people deserve this kind of help, and that all employers have an obligation to take family violence seriously and support their employees through it.

        • The Chairman

          That’s the good intentions, Stephanie, but where are the safeguards?

          Will coming to work with a shiner automatically open ones personal life up for a probing?

          • Tracey

            wasnt corrections an example of an employer trying to help in tge dunedin case where dad shot his kids and himself? they didnt sack him, they organised counselling and support. thats this in practice surely.

          • weka

            “Will coming to work with a shiner automatically open ones personal life up for a probing?”

            I haven’t had a good look at the proposal yet, but isn’t it about giving people suffering domestic violence some legal protection and support re time off etc?

            Jan Logie’s Domestic Violence – Victims’ Protection Bill will make four main changes:

            protect victims from discrimination on the basis of domestic violence,

            allow victims of domestic violence to request flexible working arrangements from their employer if needed,

            allow victims of domestic violence to take up to 10 days leave a year related to the violence, and

            clarify that domestic violence is a hazard in the workplace that needs to be managed like other hazards.

            Is it the last one you are concerned about?

          • Stephanie Rodgers

            I find it interesting that the significant amounts of work which have been done by Australian unions, the Public Service Association, and Suzanne Snively ONZM, an economist, are being written off as ‘good intentions’. This report and Member’s Bill aren’t a fluffy wishlist. They are based on serious research and proven experience.

            If you genuinely feel there is a risk to victims of domestic violence, I am certain Jan Logie would like to hear about it and amend her Member’s Bill accordingly.

            • The Chairman

              Call it what you will, Stephanie, nevertheless, making the workplace a primary place for intervention potentially puts all employees rights at risk.

              Drug testing, social media probing, now domestic violence, where will it end?

              Surely Jan doesn’t require me to state the obvious.

              • weka

                What do you mean by intervention there?

                  • McFlock

                    No workplace intervention there.
                    Workplace accommodation regarding leave, rosters and workplace safety, but no intervention.

                    I could be wrong – what are you specifically referring to?

                    • The Chairman

                      Jan believes the workplace is a primary place for intervention.

                      She states: “we know that a significant number of victims who are killed have not been in touch with support agencies but their work colleagues have either known or suspected domestic violence. This makes the workplace a primary place for intervention”.

                      If victims initially fail to seek help, how does she expect a business to intervene, let alone know who to target?

                      And on what grounds? Mere suspicion, rumors and innuendo?

                      How will a business establish the facts to avoid this new workplace hazard?

                      As for accommodating for extended leave, rosters etc… this bill also gives employers ample opportunity to refuse to accommodate.

                    • Tracey

                      The Chairman

                      Isn’t the Bill partly about making it a supportive environment from which to seek help? Sending certain messages by law and then education mean, that a victim who previously would not have sought support within a workplace, and couldn’t get it at home (obviously) and possibly family, can do so from a boss? That’s my understanding of what intervention means? I may be wrong.

                    • McFlock

                      If victims initially fail to seek help, how does she expect a business to intervene, let alone know who to target?

                      Haven’t you seen the ads?
                      “Are you okay?”

                      You’re right, that’s fucking Orwellian. /sarc

                    • The Chairman

                      The path to an ‘Orwellian’ world is generally taken in small steps and is paved with good intentions.

                    • The Chairman

                      Employers aren’t social workers, Tracey. Nor are they the police.

                      When it comes to intervention, apparently employers are largely being encouraged to draw up their own plan of attack.

                    • McFlock

                      Frankly, I’m amazed it needs to be suggested that employers to ask if their employees are okay, if they have grounds to believe something might be wrong.


                      “Are you okay?”
                      “My mum’s sick”.

                      Pretty human thing to do, if you ask me.

                    • The Chairman

                      But it’s not just being suggested, it’s being legislated.

                      They’ll be asking because victims are to be considered a potential hazard that employers are going to be legally obliged to identify and manage. Rather Orwellian.

                    • McFlock

                      So when considering the safety of their employees in the workplace, you don’t believe that the employer should consider the possibility of their employees being attacked by a partner in the workplace?

                      By the way: “victims are to be considered a potential hazard”.
                      Nope. The threat is the hazard. Stop blaming the victim. That wee misunderstanding is probably why the legislation is needed: small-minded bosses.

                    • The Chairman

                      I’m not blaming the victim, I’m highlighting what’s in the bill.

                      Not only are victims considered a work place hazard, they are also seen as an added business cost in lost working days and productivity.

                      The notion of employers accommodating for extended leave, roster changes etc… is largely a farce.

                      In regards to safety in the workplace, I’m not saying the bill doesn’t have points of merit (good intentions) I’m questioning the unintended consequences, lack of safeguards and potential for abuse.

                      Victims will be focused on largely due to their added cost and negative impact on the business and not because of genuine concern regarding their circumstances.

                      Employers are not professionals in the field, hence one slip up could result in death.

                    • Tracey

                      “Employers aren’t social workers, Tracey. Nor are they the police.”

                      Wow, just wow The Chairman.

                      People spend over a third of their day at work or traveling to work, to deny the influence and role and employer and the workplace can play is self defeating, for the employer.

                      It also denies the reality that many work environments in NZ have employers who are supportive and want to assist their workers, not just at work.

                      The premise, it seems to me, that this Bill is based on, is that employers and the workplace are hugely influential places in terms of a worker’s life. If social work and policing worked to solve domestic violence, such a bill would not be necessary.

                      I am an employer. I am not a tax collector, oh wait, yes I am, the government uses me as an unpaid tax collector to collect tax for them… so why not not pay me to look out for the well being of employees who may be physically assaulted? Of course employers or someone they employee are police and social workers… They bring down rules and regulations of enforcement int heir workplaces and they listen to troubled workers…. this Bill suggests there is an opportunity to extend that to victims of domestic violence.

                      Corrections extended support to an employee under protection orders and got him counselling.

                    • The Chairman

                      I’m not denying employers have influence, Tracey. I’m highlighting social work and policing is not their core function.

                      Moreover, intervention in this manner may put them, victims and their workplace directly in the line of fire.

                      As this isn’t their core function, the inexperience could result in deaths.

                      Nor am I denying a number of employers genuinely care. This bill doesn’t alter that.

                      Social work and policing are not the drivers of domestic violence, they generally help during and after a domestic event has taken place.

                      Hence, making employers social workers and police by default is going to prevent domestic violence from taking place.

                      Low incomes, resulting in financial stress and the related heated arguments are a driver of domestic violence. Focusing on improving that would have more of a preventative impact.

                    • Tracey

                      Surely employers become conduits to social workers and police?

                      However I agree, it would be much more effective to make employers pay a living wage in the first instance than to introduce this Bill. NOT that this will necessarily result in women (and men) being removed from violent domestic situations as quickly as one would want.

                      Isn’t this Bill as much about how to keep victims safe who have already suffered the violence? In other words, less preventative than removing people from harms way that is in existence?

                    • The Chairman

                      Yes, this bill is about trying to keep victims and the workplace safe, Tracey. That’s the good intentions behind it mustering its support.

                      However, in doing so it also highlights that victims are a workplace hazard and added business cost.

                      Where there is genuine support, it will be recognised and perhaps victims will seek it.

                      But can we manufacture a notion of support when victims will also know they will be seen in such a negative way (a workplace hazard and added business cost)?

                    • McFlock

                      Nowhere in the bill does it state or even imply that victims are a hazard. You are welcome to refer me to the specific clause if I am wrong.

                      It does require leave entitlements and other accommodations that any normal human being would have granted anyway, but in case an employer might not be a normal human being, it also outlaws discrimination on the grounds of being a DV target.

                      Your argument seems to be “not the employers’ core business, therefore they might make a tragic mistake”. The worst mistake they can make is to fail to take the threat of violence seriously and do nothing. And, just to spell it out for you, the threat of violence does not come from the employee who took out the protection order.

                    • The Chairman

                      Their inattention and potential for being distracted from domestic events puts them and their work colleagues at risk. It’s in the bill or related info.

                      And don’t overlook they also pose an added business cost, hence will be seen in a negative light.

                      As explained above, the bill also provides ample opportunity for employers to opt out of accommodating for leave entitlements.

                      Moreover, employers may find the best and only way to really manage the hazard is to simply remove it.

                      Can you point me to where this is safeguarded against?

                      One aspect of my concern is death and harm can result due to inexperience, but it’s not the base of my whole argument. Moreover, considering what I’ve posted thus far, it would be rather ignorant to conclude so.

                      I’m not suggesting employers should ignore the dangers, that would be a mistake. I’m highlighting their inexperience may exacerbate them, drawing them and their workplace directly into the line of fire.

                    • McFlock

                      Their inattention and potential for being distracted from domestic events puts them and their work colleagues at risk. It’s in the bill or related info.

                      From the Greens release: ” The strain of dealing with domestic violence can undermine a worker’s productivity, performance and wellbeing.”
                      If that translates to putting their colleagues at risk, isn’t that already covered by OSH?

                      And don’t overlook they also pose an added business cost, hence will be seen in a negative light.

                      As explained above, the bill also provides ample opportunity for employers to opt out of accommodating for leave entitlements.

                      Moreover, employers may find the best and only way to really manage the hazard is to simply remove it.

                      Can you point me to where this is safeguarded against?

                      From the bill’s explanatory note:
                      “Clause 8 amends section 105 of the ERA to add, as a prohibited
                      ground of discrimination, being a victim of domestic violence.”

                      “Clause 16 amends section 21 of the HRA to add, as a prohibited
                      ground of discrimination, being a victim of domestic violence.”

                    • The Chairman

                      Despite victims being extremely vulnerable in the workplace, coupled with the workplace hazard and added business costs they pose, if an employer can’t accommodate a victims needs they’ll still be required to keep them in employment.

                      That’s interesting as it does little to improve workplace safety, especially in a high risk time of separation. Work is where the victim will be found.

                      Moreover, if the hazard and added business cost can’t be directly removed, it will be avoided in other ways – perhaps becoming a long-term employment obstacle for women.

                    • McFlock

                      Despite victims being extremely vulnerable in the workplace, coupled with the workplace hazard and added business costs they pose, if an employer can’t accommodate a victims needs they’ll still be required to keep them in employment.

                      That’s interesting as it does little to improve workplace safety, especially in a high risk time of separation. Work is where the victim will be found.

                      awww, that’s sweet – you’ll fire them for their own good. God forbid they’d make that decisions, or other agencies get involved if the threat is that clear and immediate that you need to fire someone.
                      Really, measures would simply include alerting security to the situation, controlling access, and maybe figuring out a plan for “what if X turns up at the counter?”

                      Moreover, if the hazard and added business cost can’t be directly removed, it will be avoided in other ways – perhaps becoming a long-term employment obstacle for women.

                      Like it’s not already, alongside ethnicity and gender? What it does mean is that the employer at least has to come up with real reasons for dismissal, rather than “too much hassle from your domestic situation”.

                    • The Chairman

                      Again, you’re incorrectly making this personal. I’m not firing anyone. I’m highlighting the contradiction in the objective of the bill.

                      And it’s not as simple as you claim. Not all businesses have on-site security or can easily control access.

                      Someone could be killed or harmed in the time the police are called and arrive on the scene.

                    • McFlock

                      And it’s not as simple as you claim. Not all businesses have on-site security or can easily control access.

                      Someone could be killed or harmed in the time the police are called and arrive on the scene.

                      You are massively overstating the risk and massively understating the ways that risk can be mitigated.

                      If the risk is genuinely that serious, that is one situation where the employee might take time off while the cops track down the abuser. Nobody needs to be fired. Or the staff member can go to the stockroom for a while. Or shift rosters. Because if the abuser doesn’t know their target has shifted roster, they wont know their target has been fired.

                      As opposed to your idea, where the target of abuse is afraid to tell their boss in case they get fired, and so none of their colleagues have been told to look out for person X, nor have been implemented any of the myriad of other mitigating measures that would be an option before firing the employee should even be considered.

                      My guess is that you’re just pissed at the potential leave costs.

                    • The Chairman

                      Not at all. When it comes to domestic violence, people are often killed or harmed.

                      Police can’t charge someone till a crime has been committed and can only hold them for a limited time without charging them.

                      Victims are often fearful and in some cases ashamed. Hence, manufacturing a notion of support when victims will also know they will be seen in such a negative way (a workplace hazard and added business cost) isn’t going to encourage many to come forward.

                      Victims will fear unscrupulous employers will merely fault pick to give them just cause.

                    • McFlock

                      Not at all. When it comes to domestic violence, people are often killed or harmed.

                      … in the workplace? cite, please. #protection orders, #po violated, #po assaults in workplace (preferably including the other staff you’re so concerned about).
                      Otherwise you’re just making shit up.

                      Police can’t charge someone till a crime has been committed and can only hold them for a limited time without charging them.

                      They can, however, intervene in other ways, and threatening behaviour is an excellent catch-all.

                      Victims are often fearful and in some cases ashamed. Hence, manufacturing a notion of support when victims will also know they will be seen in such a negative way (a workplace hazard and added business cost) isn’t going to encourage many to come forward.

                      Victims will fear unscrupulous employers will merely fault pick to give them just cause.

                      But if the bill were enacted, at least they’d have some recourse against the crappy employers you seek to protect. Unlike now.

                    • The Chairman

                      Evidently, you’ve had little life experience if you believe I’m making things up.

                      It’s from the US but I’m sure you’ll get the gist.


                      People can be arrested and processed within the hour. Again, clearly no real life experience.

                      Enacting the bill will see victims become considered a potential hazard that employers are going to be legally obliged to identify, with the unscrupulous attempting to weed them out.

                    • McFlock

                      You’re welcome to show something with relevant data.
                      You know, New Zealand, something that doesn’t conflate all violence with violence committed by the employee’s domestic violence abuser.

                      If people aren’t “often killed or harmed” by their domestic violence abuser in their own workplace, it’s a non-issue. How do you define “often”? Is every person who takes out a protection order subsequently killed in their own workplace by their abuser? No. So what level are we talking about, and is it higher for employees than the regular danger from violent strangers walking in off the street?

                      Enacting the bill will see victims become considered a potential hazard that employers are going to be legally obliged to identify, with the unscrupulous attempting to weed them out.

                      It’s already a hazard they need to identify(check out a) and e)). The new bill simply makes it explicit, and protects people from discrimination by their bosses.

                    • The Chairman

                      Indeed, it’s more explicit as it’s an attempt to identify more, which has its good intentions but also helps the unscrupulous with their weeding.

                      Then there is the risk of inexperience, that could potentially result in death and harm.

                      Moreover, how do you think an abuser will react when they eventually find out an employer compelled their partner to dob them in? In some cases, it won’t be pretty to say the least.

                      Nearly 33% of women killed in U.S. workplaces between 2003-2008 were killed by a current or former intimate partner.

                      According to a 2006 study from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly one in four large private industry establishments (with more than 1,000 employees) reported at least one incidence of domestic violence, including threats and assaults, in the past year.


                      NZ Police estimate only 18% of domestic violence incidents are reported.

                      However, NZ Police are called to around 200 domestic violence situations a day – that’s one every seven minutes on average.


                      A specific breakdown of locations and figures on violence that is perpetrated and experienced by an intimate partner in NZ is somewhat lacking.

                      The NZ police are currently working on improving their stats.

                      Scroll down to page 4. What is happening with family violence offending?


                      Alternatively, http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO1404/S00020/police-crime-stats-dont-tell-us-story-on-domestic-violence.htm.

                      You’ll have to suffice with what little can be gleamed locally and what international figures show.

  5. RedBaronCV 5

    Some how I have reservations about this too. I find it some what disturbing. On one hand , yes it is an effort to do something. On the other hand, given that some very personal information is going to be disclosed, what surety is there that it isn’t going to be used against the discloser in very many ways.
    Given that even those people and systems that should be reacting adequately to domestic violence and should have the background material and tools to do so – police, family courts, Winz- simply don’t, mainly they coabuse .
    Financially, Winz with the beneficiary bashing, and the courts with their “you don’t need any child support why should he have to pay” provide some spectacular financial coabuse of caregivers.

    The police with the wet bus ticket cool down period deprive the kids of homes and provide the abuser with a fasle sense of entitlement. The courts with the so called theraputic model, demanding that abusers have the right to have their targets attend on their negotiating demands are saying that ex partners and the children want to be therapy for the abuser and the attached violence, drug and alcohol problems. Coabuse of the personal and psychological sort rather than attending to safety issues of women and children.

    Last but not least why should those with protection orders out agains them not have to disclose this at job interviews. There is so much DV in New Zealand that these disclosures can easitly wind up in the hands of abusers. Many abusers wear a suit and tie, have great lawyers and good jobs, swimming untouched in the community.

  6. bystander 6

    Meanwhile over on Planet Farrar, “It’s not ok” has been forgotten/ignored in the stats of reported crime.


    • Tracey 6.1

      yesterday key claimed law and order is the second most important thing to kiwis. today crime stat show crime has dropped… unless you are a victim of domestic violence… ergo, national has now addressed the second most important issue to kiwis. govt is so easy.

  7. RedBaronCV 7

    I’ve spent a lot on time thinking about the above and wondered if there was another piece that could/should be added. Employers to be notified by people who have protection orders against them- usually being convicted of a criminal offence requires employer notification. And some further requirements that unpaid(not paid because who should be paid for abuse) time off be given to enable the recognised DV courses to be completed and passed.(Not just some useless counselling) Even when orders are made the completion rate of these courses is low and there is some evidence that arresting people at work is quite a good way to ensure they attend.
    So why not put some workplace pressure on those who have an order against them, to clean up their act (maybe they get a voluntary chance to do so before employer notification) and also so that the employer can ensure that they are not in a work position that causes problems.
    I’ve known people with orders against them who are in charge of money flows for social response in this area and there is a reported family law case of a police prosecutor who had an order against him. Was there any workplace monitoring to ensure that these positions were not used in an inappropriate way?

    • Tracey 7.1

      sometimes the catalyst for violence is the financial stresses of life. the underlying cause for domestic violence are many and varied, but essentially placing a person in economic hardship may make them angrier and feel they have nothing left to lose?

      • RedBaronCV 7.1.1

        These are people who get satisfaction out of hitting and bullying others. The more we make enviromental and outside factors the excuse the less emphasis we put on the individual taking responsibility for their own behaviour and stopping it.
        Everyone puts up with the same workplaces, economics etc, most don’t deal with it by hitting others. Plenty of well off people do the DV thing too.

  8. Tracey 8

    ” Rape crisis centres are struggling under the weight of increased demand for services and a dwindling pool of funding.

    Survivors of sexual violence and agencies supporting victims and offenders spoke at a parliamentary inquiry into funding of specialist sexual violence services yesterday.

    Wellington Rape Crisis manager Eleanor Butterworth estimated that about 20 per cent of their staff hours were spent on completing funding applications and reports, but despite their efforts the agency is running on a deficit of up to $100,000 every year.

    Butterworth said one in four women and one in eight men has experienced sexual violence, and as the stigma around it was broken down there would be greater demand to plan for.

    If the cost of sexual violence was to be reduced – Treasury estimated it cost New Zealand $1.2 billion a year – resources needed to be put into education and prevention, she said.

    “When it’s not being dealt with it just pops up somewhere else in the system – 75 per cent of our clients have mental health diagnoses.”

    Abuse and Rape Crisis Support Manawatu manager Ann Kent said some clients had to wait three months for an appointment because the organisation could not keep up with demand.

    “Our team is exhausted and frustrated by a lack of resources, but we continue to work hard for the services our clients need.”

    They were on track to see 10 per cent more clients this year than last, and the number of referrals from police in Manawatu had increased by half.

    Kent said clients had high needs, with one likening her life after sexual violence to a war zone. ”


  9. joe90 9



    Indirect costs

    Not only do victims of domestic violence require medical attention, they also tend to miss work more frequently. To illustrate the extent of this problem, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, using data from 2007, found that victims lose almost 8 million days of paid work per year. That’s equal to more than 32,000 full-time jobs and nearly 5.6 million days of household productivity.

    However, that’s not the only problem. The NCADV notes that there are 16,800 homicides due to domestic violence annually. Factoring this in, the true cost is $37 billion. Adjusting for inflation, it would be $41.9 billion in 2014. To put that into perspective, that exceeds the gross domestic product of more than half of all nations on Earth.

    • miravox 9.1

      Crazy isn’t it?

      A huge social cost has time and again been converted to a huge economic cost (not to mention a huge educational and mental health cost for kids exposed to domestic violence) and even then, in a world that measures value by money, society cannot pull together to demand the resources to end this scourge and politicians refuse to lead in a coordinated way.

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