New legislation adopted by New Zealand’s Parliament provides victims of domestic violence 10 days paid leave to allow them to ensure their personal safety. Under the law, which comes into effect in April 2019, victims will not be required to provide proof of violence and will have access to flexible work arrangements to facilitate their safety.
The law recognizes that domestic violence can impact the workplace, echoing the discussions that took place at this year’s International Labour Conference (ILC), where the Standards Setting Committee decided that the fight against harassment and violence require a Convention, supplemented by a Recommendation. The legislation highlights the need for action to address the effects of domestic violence on the world of work at the forthcoming discussion at the next ILC, where union input will be critical.
IUF New Zealand affiliates have greeted the legislation as a significant advance. Unite Union commented that “We had negotiated domestic violence leave for our members at SkyCity casino last year, but were facing many years of bargaining to extend that to all our union agreements. Having it legislated as a basic employment right will ensure all workers have access immediately, and help remove the stigma of asking for, and receiving, support when faced with domestic violence.”
First Union said that while they had negotiated domestic violence clauses in many of their collective agreements, “This will make it easier for us to negotiate these terms and conditions into collective agreements so we are very thankful on behalf of our members who have experienced domestic violence, and as an organisation battling to have such clauses included in employment agreements. Employers have a responsibility to protect their workers and this adds additional protective cover to all New Zealanders.”
The Meat Workers Union said “Domestic violence affects us all. This legislation offers a pathway for victims who often face financial constraints trying to leave an abusive situation.”
New Zealand has one of the highest rates of domestic violence among developed countries.