Call for more employers to consider needs of workers affected by family violence
Employers who adopt a family violence policy could go beyond saving money - the move could save lives as well.
As part of Friday's White Ribbon Day, the Human Rights Commission launched a campaign aimed at encouraging businesses to introduce a family violence policy in their workplaces.
As domestic violence affected one in three women, Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner Dr Jackie Blue said hundreds of businesses around New Zealand would be feeling the effects as well.
"The damaging and pervasive effects of family violence extends beyond the home. Many victims and perpetrators will invariably bring their trauma with them to work and are more likely to be disengaged, less productive and to suffer workplace accidents," she said.
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* Study findings on domestic violent present 'challenging picture'
* Women's Refuge and The Warehouse team up to help victims of domestic violence
* Walking a mile in her shoes to raise awareness of domestic violence
"By implementing a family violence policy, the cost savings to the business will be truly significant but crucially, for victims, it can be life-changing and life-saving," Blue said. Domestic violence costs the country's workplaces about $386 million a year.
Shine's communications manager Holly Carrington said the domestic violence service had heard of women who had been reprimanded at work or even fired by employers who were unaware of the abuse and misunderstood the reasons for their employee's absence from work.
Lawyer and anti-violence campaigner Catriona MacLennan fully supported the initiative to get more employers on board and said the provision of paid leave was also important.
"Many victims stay in violence relationships for financial reasons - they don't have the money to support themselves and their children if they leave," she said.
She said if a woman lost her job because she needed time to find a safe place to stay or to attend court, it would heighten the risk she would return to the abuser.
Paid leave provisions could be achieved two ways, according to MacLennan, either through individual employment agreements or if the Government passed legislation.
Green Party MP Jan Logie said her members' bill - the Domestic Violence Victims' Protection Bill - sought to extend leave provisions to include domestic violence.
She said the Government and employers needed to ensure robust practices were in place to protect employees who were victims of domestic violence.
"Your level of safety shouldn't depend on what sort of job you have. There are great employers picking this up, but every woman deserves proper protections from domestic violence," Logie said.
The Human Rights Commission will release a series of videos featuring businesses who have already adopted a policy, including The Warehouse which was the first in the country to gain White Ribbon accreditation.
The Warehouse Group, which employs about 12,000 people, offers domestic violence victims up to 10 days paid leave each year.
THE REALITY OF FAMILY VIOLENCE:
* It effects one in three women
* About 50 per cent of homicides are family violence related
* Police attend a family violence incident every seven minutes
* It costs New Zealand $8 billion a year.
Source: It's not OK campaign