As of Monday 1 April, the new Domestic Violence Victims’ Protection Act took effect. This new legislation allow for up to 10 days of paid domestic violence leave and the right to request short-term flexible working arrangements.
It is estimated that more than 500,000 New Zealanders are victims of family violence (defined as physical, sexual or psychological abuse), of which more than 40% are in paid employment. The impact of family violence is significant. In 2014 it cost NZ businesses more than $300 million in lost productivity, recruitment/retraining costs and cover for sick days.
But fortunately there is a free, easy to use tool that can help small NZ businesses develop family violence policies, making it easier to adopt the new legislation.
Business.govt.nz’s Workplace Policy Builder suite now includes a Family Violence Policy, designed to support productivity and wellbeing for small to medium sized businesses. With the new legislation now in place, we highly recommend you ensure your business has an appropriate Family Violence Policy in place and that your staff are well-informed.
Your Family Violence Policy should cover leave, staff training, short-term and longer-term safety provisions, privacy and referrals to support services.
“But it’s none of my business”
Don’t assume that it’s none of your business or that your workplace doesn’t need a policy like this. In some circumstances, an employee could have their ability to work sabotaged by the an abusive, violent or controlling person. A situation like this can cost more than just the victim’s productivity.
Implementing a Family Violence Policy in your workplace is more than just ‘the right thing to do’. It can help transform the lives of your staff, helping them to feel safe and supported in an extremely challenging time, and it also makes business sense.
Every workplace is different, so it’s important to develop a policy that is customised for your unique needs. Business.govt.nz’s tool offers choices to help you decide what is right for your workplace.
Implementing your Family Violence Policy
Once you’ve developed your Family Violence Policy, here’s some advice from business.govt.nz to help you implement it well:
- Make it visible. It’s important that your staff know about the policy so they understand how they will be supported if they are experiencing domestic violence.
- Help them feel safe. The workplace is often the only place a victim feels safe. It can provide a place for a victim to gain confidence, get support and break the cycle of abuse.
- Be supportive. A supportive workplace can help victims to take steps to become survivors. Continuing in paid work provides financial independence which helps to empower victims. Ensure that your employees have access to EAP services if your workplace provides this.
- Protect people’s privacy. Make sure you discuss with staff how to support victims to keep their situation confidential. If any paid domestic violence leave is taken by the employee, carefully consider how this is reported in payroll and what is shown on payslips.
- Be prepared. Don’t assume your workplace doesn’t need this policy. Develop a list of services that can help your staff so you know where to refer them, if needed.
- The Human Rights Commission answers a number of FAQs around Family Violence and the Human Rights Act for employers.
- DV Free – Making the World Domestic Violence Free, offer resources, guidelines and services for employers.
- Business Working to End Family Violence have additional resources and information.
If you haven’t already, make it a priority to head over here and start building your Family Violence Policy now.
If you would like some support from our Human Resources team in developing and implementing your workplace Family Violence Policy, we invite you to contact us here.