Paid leave for Victims of Domestic Violence

Written By: - Date published: 1:18 pm, September 15th, 2015 - 40 comments
Categories: business, Economy, uncategorized - Tags:

The Big Red Shed, which within its entire group employs 12,000 people, leads the way with an innovative initiative to extend paid leave to those suffering from domestic violence and for those employees supporting someone who is a victim of domestic violence.

Read more here

The Green Party also has a Bill and is calling for support from the government

The Government needs to legislate to ensure all employers treat domestic violence as a human rights issue and put measures in place to support and protect staff experiencing or at risk of domestic violence.

Domestic Violence – Victims’ Protection Bill proposes to do that, and while parts of it require updating following the recent passage of the Health and Safety at Work Act, other parts, such as the provision of up to 10 days’ leave from work for victims of domestic violence, could be picked up by Government immediately

The support of employers is often crucial to domestic violence victims being able to deal with the issues they are experiencing and leave violent relationships.

“I am encouraged by the recent Select Committee report on workplace health and safety legislation which acknowledged that fear, fatigue, and other responses to domestic violence can be a hazard in the workplace and encouraged business and Government to work to mitigate the effects of domestic violence on workplace health and safety.

By picking up my Bill, and by taking initiatives such as getting ACC to fund workplace training to assist employers to respond to domestic violence as a workplace hazard, the Government could go a long way towards meeting that Select Committee recommendation, Ms Logie said.

UPDATE  You can read the non gender specific Bill here

40 comments on “Paid leave for Victims of Domestic Violence”

  1. Rosie 1

    What a welcome move from a NZ employer. Uplifting to see that compassion and progressive thinking in action, being led by The Warehouse and it’s other big box stores.

    Such a provision in an employment agreement acknowledges the importance of the workplace in a victims life and allows the victim to be open about what’s happening for them. Sometimes victims feel shame for what they are experiencing, despite that fact that the shame is not theirs to own. Shame is something that is often hidden, which is unhealthy as it grows and deepens in a victims isolation.

    This provision gives an opportunity to shine a light on the reality for victims and shrink shame down to size. Just having the support of the employer will go some way to promote recovery as well it intended purpose of helping the victim address the practical aspects of their suffering.

    Good on Jan Logie for her work with her domestic violence – victims protection bill. Bringing the issue of DV into the workplace encourages a collective response to DV. Thats the right thing to do. DV can’t be reduced and eliminated by individuals alone.

  2. vto 2

    Why limit it to victims of only domestic violence?

    Why not make it applicable to victims of ALL violence? What is the reason for the distinction?

    • McFlock 2.1

      At a wild guess because not all violence involves an immediate unplanned relocation and breakdown of a relationship, as well as the injury and trauma.

    • Rosie 2.2

      Perhaps because DV is persistent in a person’s life.

      A person getting assaulted in a random drunken fight one Saturday night carries a completely different set of circumstances from someone who is being routinely assaulted, raped and terrorised behind closed doors with no witnesses.

      They can’t just walk away because their abuser has control of their finances, because their abuser has manipulated the perception of the reality to friends and family and because the abuser is slowly wearing down the victims self belief and self esteem, so escaping becomes harder and harder.

      It’s far more complex than a one off episode of violence. It requires a greater degree of support and care. The extra paid leave gives the victim an opportunity to access the help they need over time until she or he is eventually free of the ongoing violence.

      • vto 2.2.1

        What you are saying is that victims of DV suffer more than victims of other violence, and that that is the reason they deserve this help. (That is obviously far from always the case, but putting that to one side for the moment..)

        If that is the reason for the bill then surely the bill should target all those who suffer extended forms of violence with greater impact than the average.

        Otherwise it leaves a whole bunch of society missing out on similar help solely because of the nature (not the extent) of the violence, and that is daft and discriminatory.

        Look, its a good and fine idea and should be implemented but it leaves a huge swathe of people in similar situations out in the cold for no good reason. No good reason at all.

        • Rosie

          vto, you’re wading into that old deserving vs undeserving territory. That gets divisive.

          I’m saying that DV victims’ situations are far more complex and persistent than one off forms of violence, therefore require a greater degree of on ongoing support, and more resources, eg, relocation as McFlock mentioned, whether it be emergency or permanent. It’s beyond seeking medical treatment for a one off injury, and recovery time from a one off injury.

          You mention other forms of extended violence. What do you mean by that?

          • vto

            “vto, you’re wading into that old deserving vs undeserving territory. That gets divisive.”

            But that is entirely the point I am making to you. It is this bill that is entering that deserving v undeserving territory. Not every non-DV violence is one-off with solely injury and trauma. It surprises me that this even needs spelling out.

        • McFlock

          What you are saying is that victims of DV suffer more than victims of other violence

          Really? I didn’t get that at all.

          All I read was Rosie explaining that DV often involves some specific factors that other forms of violence generally don’t, to the degree that The Warehouse felt a specific policy was appropriate.

          This does not preclude staff receiving similar assistance when they experience incidents of violence that might have factors similar to DV (without actually being domestic violence). It simply guarantees that staff across the company are entitled to that help, using commonly understood terms to clearly define the types of situation for which that assistance is available.

          • vto

            It does amaze me how people get so many different meanings out of the same thing. No wonder it can be so difficult for people to all just get along.

            • McFlock

              Too true.

              Isn’t something like 70% of information in a conversation non-verbal: tone, expression, body language?

              In text it’s 100%.

              • Rosie

                A community studies tutor I had said only 10% of communication is verbal.

                Think of John Key. His non verbal comms make him so easy to read before he even opens his gob.

                • vto

                  Yep, non-verbal communication has been lost in our internet world. After millions of years of developing a highly complex and supremely understood means of non-verbal comms it is suddenly dumped and we are all supposed to just carry on the same ..?? …

                  • Rosie

                    That’s one of the many reasons I only have a dumb phone. I prefer the full spectrum communication experience. 🙂

              • One Anonymous Bloke

                “Verbal*” is as applicable to the written word as it is the spoken word.

                *relating to or in the form of words.

            • Rosie

              From McFlock (again)

              “This does not preclude staff receiving similar assistance when they experience incidents of violence that might have factors similar to DV (without actually being domestic violence). It simply guarantees that staff across the company are entitled to that help, using commonly understood terms to clearly define the types of situation for which that assistance is available.”

              This is a really good point. You’d need to see what the actual wording in the employment agreement is, and how DV is defined. It may not be as narrow as you think.

              Same goes for Jan Logie’s bill. Wait to see how DV is defined in the bill, it might be more encompassing than you think too.

              • vto

                I think the bill and the red sheds policy need to be seen in different lights. All luck to the red sheds, but the legislation shouldn’t follow the same narrow route, imo..

                Though as you suggest, depends on how the violence is defined in the bill

                • tracey

                  we differentiate different types of violence in lots of ways through the law and allocation of funding and so on.

      • Heather Grimwood 2.2.2

        Rosie at 2.2: Your second main paragraph puts the trauma of DV in a nutshell.
        Surely too, the mere fact of these compassionate employers doing something really positive to ameliorate it’s suffering indicates to me how widespread is this blot on our society.

    • tracey 2.3

      That’s the spirit vto

  3. infused 3

    Well.. this isn’t going to be abused.

  4. les 4

    The Warehouse should be applauded for this and their progressive wage policies.The anti thesis of the Talleys of the world.

  5. Bill 5

    Yeah, okay. I’m dead set against this.

    My boss now gets to know that I’m being abused or whatever? And if I’m a woman and the bosses are men? What if the person I ‘confide in’ is themselves an abusive shit? And so on and so on. (Actually, hasn’t this debate been had here some time in the past – there was something about training for employers or some such?)

    If 10 days are to be allowed for DV, then fuck it – increase sick provisions by 10 days and be done with it. Better still, bring back unlimited sick leave and throw some provision to employers whereby they can investigate reasonable suspicion of sick leave being abused.

    • Tracey 5.1

      ” increase sick provisions by 10 days and be done with it. Better still, bring back unlimited sick leave”

      and if pressed supply a certificate showing you are the victim of DV and then you are back at your original objection

      • Bill 5.1.1

        No. A doctor’s line to the simple effect that you are incapable of work ‘due to injury’ (either psychological or physical) – not some ‘yellow star’ certificate proclaiming that you’re a victim of DV.

        Like current sick provisions (?), bosses can only demand sick lines after a specified period (that they pay for) and only if they have grounds for suspicion that an employee is ‘swinging the hook’.

        • tracey

          When I was 24 I became quite ill. I got a 2 week sickness certificate which i gave to my employers ( a law firm). I went back for a few days but was still ill. This time I got a 2 month sickness certificate from my doctor. My employers (small law firm) told me they couldn’t keep my job open for 2 months. I was ill, didn’t fight it. So, I resigned.

          I am not sure exactly how this fits with what you are saying, but it feels like it does, somehow 😉

    • Rosie 5.2

      No, the boss doesn’t need to know about the victims experience’s if the victim doesn’t feel comfortable with or trusting of that boss, whether male or female.

      There can be another appointed person they con contact to arrange leave, and there should be a provision in the agreement that allows an alternative person or people that can over see leave application.

      That would be ideal if we write it into law, as per Jan Logie’s bill – there would need to be a number of safety nets in place.

      In the case of the Warehouse, the employer themselves is demonstrating an act of goodwill, and compassion, so company policy in theory should provide a safe and supportive place for the victim to go to work and not be harassed about the leave she/he is taking.

      As an aside some workplaces provide EAP, Employee Assistance Programmes to staff if they are struggling with issues. This can be related to the workplace or it can be personal. Employees can seek appointments with counsellors and the the company is invoiced per session.

      It is completely confidential. The company will never know who has been seeing a counsellor.

      Like the warehouse move, I see this as a positive. When businesses are providing assistance to their staff for non work related issues they are acknowledging that staff member as a whole person, not just someone who shows up for them day after day. It shows they actually value that person.
      Works for them too. They are likely to retain the worker who feels supported during a crisis. A worker who receives help is also going to be more productive in the long run, which one of the reasons some businesses are using EAP services.

      As for 10 days sick leave. This should have passed decades ago. 5 days is a (sick) joke. 10 days should be the minimum. I’ve seen several union collectives with more that 10, so it pays to join your union. They can negotiate for better conditions, sick leave and special leave being one of them

  6. Another anonymous person 6

    I am keenly interested in the Domestic violence and Child abuse debates. Almost always – precious few exceptions – DOMESTIC VIOLENCE – is code for violence against selected women only. Would you challenge my inserting “selected in there”? Well I know of a young lady who was abused by mum from age six months old. She’s never counted, and the only way I can make sense of that is that her safe parent is Dad [therefore unacceptable to acknowledge, help, or statistically count]. More-over when as a teen she told White-ribbon at a public gathering that “women hit too” she was abused and reduced to tears in front of police doing the sausage sizzle in support the event. So yes, I insert “selected in there” and this demonstrates the hypocrisy of those persons and organisations who manage this important issue ignoring that women hit and kill too. I say that anybody whose opinions about violence are conditional upon gender, race or age are hypocrites. And so far I have only mentioned females who are excluded as victims and dehumanised; simply on the basis of the gender of the offender. Might this bias also explain the whacky statistics? Well there is a huge disparity between the data from reputable longitudinal studies and the most often used statistics obtained from gender specific organisations such as “Women’s refuge” and politically compliant organisations such as police. I also note that in New Zealand discussion about family violence, its as if women cannot have any responsibility for how their sons have turned out. All males are conceived by, carried by, born to, educated and morally trained in all cases by women. As we know, behind every successful man is a woman; but for some reason women take no responsibility for those less admirable sons. However, I do know that women already have much assistance to leave situations they claim are violent. There are refuges and WINZ support, and women use these already. However if the safe parent is male and in the same situation; like the case I cite; a dad needing to flee with kids for their safety; well first up – he’s pursued by the law as a kidnapper; WINZ refused support; there was no refuge for them; and precious few advisors; and the courts with their associate organisations are under political gender pressure as well. Further more, the offender was aided by a well resourced, well practiced, and gender partial line of various supports. Even if a father in the exact same situation as a female does prevail, there are not the assistances there for him, as there are already set up and funded for women. Too often he is a victim of grievous slurs which stick for a lifetime. I agree that violence is a very serious problem, but I appeal to those who are capable of addressing the problem without a gender, race or age filter to be more outspoken on the issue.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 6.1

      Paragraphs help reduce verbal violence. Why not give them a try?

    • Tracey 6.2

      That was a hard read cos of the way it was formatted. However, I made it to the end and thank you for your post.

      I have NEVER stated that women do not commit DV. Now is your time to voice your concerns directly to the Greens through your MP (who gets to speak in Parliament) or by emailing the GP directly. I urge you to do so. Neither the GP press release or the bIll discriminate on the basis of gender.

      Here is the proposed definition for the Bill to be introduced by The Green Party

      “A victim of domestic violence,—
      “(a) for the purposes of this Act, is a person who suffers
      domestic violence:
      “(b) for the purposes of other enactments, is a person who
      is able to produce a domestic violence document because—
      “(i) the person has suffered domestic violence; or
      Consultation draft 3
      Part 2 cl 6 Domestic Violence—Victims’ Protection Bill
      “(ii) the person provides care or support to an individual
      in the person’s immediate family or household who requires care or support because the individual suffers domestic violence in the individual’s

  7. Tracey 7

    The proposed Bill is here

    Bearing in mind that it will probably be voted down, that doesn’t stop ANYONE from contacting their local MP or the GP directly and telling them what you think and what you want. That is how our process works. Very few important BIlls become Acts with the same clauses and wording they had at first reading.

  8. Jan Logie 8

    Thanks for spreading the word about my bill. If people are supportive of this law they could make it one of their recommendations in the consultation about strengthening NZ’s legislative response to family violence.
    Written submissions can be made online or you can just email suggestions to them
    I’ve got other suggestions too
    cheers Jan

  9. Another anonymous person 9

    I am only very new here. Sorry about the lack of paragraphs and it being hard to read. I’ll try harder here.

    Tracey, I don’t think I accused you of stating that women never commit family violence. I re-read my piece, and still don’t see it. But I do point out that there is an assumption that all family violence is done by men. This is mimicked by all anti-violence campaigns I have seen to date which depict women only as victims, and males as offenders. Its like brain-washing.

    I do not claim victim-hood, but I do advocate my daughter’s position. They are the victims, I was just being Dad.

    It is true that I have taken constant abuse and denigration in bringing them to safety. This abuse from people who normally preach that abuse is not okay. Their conduct and prejudice undermines their claim to any merit.

    We live in a country where the “Anti-violence” movement is hi-jacked by gender prejudice. Much legislation has been enacted in gender neutral terms, but just try to use it if you are male.

    In a fair democracy which has a reasonably reliable justice system; all things being equal, it should not matter what one’s gender is – it should be the evidence which is counted. This does not describe New Zealand Justice, Government, legislation, police or courts and too many associated NGO’s.

    I would not support the legislation, if only because I have not the slightest belief that it would be applied equally to appropriate deserving cases. I believe the BIll may not be written that way, but the intention will be to help selected women only.

    Males would find it much more difficult to be taken seriously and be believed. What kind of evidence would one have to present in order to qualify for assistance? – a police report perhaps? Well Police are biased – and you can see this in the form of White-ribbons which seem now to be a part of the uniform. Police hand these things out too. And in our own case I called them after my eldest was dangerously assaulted – the police response was to ask me what I was doing to cause my wife to harm the kids. Well maybe not a police report then – so what other certificate would be accepted to access such help?

    I say all violence matters. Its too important an issue to be subject to filters such as gender, race or age. Everyone needs to be able to escape violence.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 9.1

      How does conflating Police prejudice with a Green Party bill move things forward?

      (thanks for using paragraphs. )

    • Rosie 9.2

      Click on Jan Logie’s link above and you will see she is not advocating for women only, in her bill. She has also invited readers and commenters to write a submission for her bill.

      I empathise with your personal experience of DV, AAP. I wonder however, if this has coloured your view. I’m in the unfortunate position of witnessing far too much dv against women friends and a woman in our neighbourhood who was killed by her partner despite her protection orders against her.

      In June my safety and well being was threatened by a builder working on a site next to our property. It was fucking frightening, it still is, despite that the fact I’m pretty good at standing up for myself. This stress resulted in my meds being increased by my Doc. That man still works on that site next to my house, every day. His employer, the developer, refuses to acknowledge there is a problem

      This is despite several calls to the Police. I can assure you they were not biased in my favour because of my gender. This is one personal and subjective experience and doesn’t qualify me as an expert. I don’t think your situation does either.

      Give us a break and allow some hope.

  10. deb 10

    I had some experience with this last year and earlier this year and guess I was really lucky, that my employers were incredibly supportive and allowed me to take paid leave not just for the times when I was physically unable to work due to injury, but also for the court cases etc that came after.

    They were also supportive when my exs parents tried their damnedest to get me fired (I guess they didn’t like their son being held accountable, let alone sent to jail). But even so it was really embarrassing to tell my employers what had been going on – I felt like “white trash” to be with a woman basher (please don’t think I’m saying that about other dv victims – it’s how I was scared I would be perceived).

    I guess I was lucky to have good employers, in a firm small enough that they could use their own discretion to allow me to take leave – in larger firms I imagine it’s fairly difficult for a manager to make that call when they’d have to explain to their own superiors. Good on the Warehouse for making this policy.

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