New law change for domestic violence survivors

By Jessica Tyson

A new law change allowing workplaces to be a part of the solution to domestic violence will be put into action tomorrow.

As part of the Victims Protection Act, all victims of domestic violence will be able to get support from their employers to stop violence and get help without worrying about losing their jobs.

It comes after research shows New Zealand to have the highest rate of reported violence towards women in the developed world, with New Zealand Police attending a family violence-related call out every four minutes.

Council of Trade Unions Vice President Rachel Mackintosh says as part of the new law, employees will have the right to apply for paid leave and request short term changes to their working arrangements.

“Victims of domestic violence will be able to request up to 10 days additional paid leave from work a year for reasons related to domestic violence,” she says.

The leave will allow employees to manage the effects of domestic violence and help themselves and their children stay safe.

It will help employees to take time to move houses, attend scheduled court dates and arrange care for their children without risking their ongoing employment, says Mackintosh.

According to Te Puni Kōkiri, Māori students are twice as likely as European students to report witnessing adults hit children in their homes.

In 2016 there were 118,910 family violence investigations by police in Aotearoa. That same year 5,461 applications were made for protection orders with 89 percent of them made by women and 10 percent by men.

“This is progressive legislation which will make New Zealand workplaces better, safer places that support decent work and wellbeing for everyone,” says Mackintosh.

The change comes after the Domestic Violence – Victims’ Protection Bill passed in parliament last year by 63 votes to 57.

 “We are proud that New Zealand is leading the way in ensuring that domestic abuse survivors are better supported in their workplaces.”