In New Zealand, domestic victims can now take out a special type of leave, thanks to legislation that has been passed.
The Domestic Violence—Victims’ Protection Bill allows people to request up to 10 days of leave a year if they are affected by domestic violence, on top of regular sick and vacation entitlements.
It also protects domestic violence victims from being dismissed from their jobs or have their employment conditions downgraded. Green Party MP Jan Logie worked on the bill for 7 years, and pushed it through parliament in its third reading on Wednesday.
The bill was voted in favour 63 votes to 57, with opposition concerned the measure could be financially difficult for small and medium-sized businesses.
Logie said domestic violence is an issue that isn’t strictly confined to the home, with abuse trickling into the workplace, undermining their safety and productivity.
“All too often, victims have to leave their jobs because of this, and it makes them more reliant on their abusive partner, and means their employer has to recruit and train up new staff. It’s a lose-lose situation,” Logie said.
“Today, we will become the first country in the world to provide these protections as universal entitlements. Today we stand for a future free of domestic violence.”
New Zealand has one of the highest rates of domestic violence in the world, with police attending 105,000 family violence callouts a year. 80 percent of incidents, however, go unreported.
“It can make an enormous difference for the very small number of victims who need to take advantage of the provision,” Holly Carrington, from domestic violence charity Shine, told Newshub.
“What this bill does is ensures a basic level of support from all employers across the board, which is just fantastic.”
New Zealand’s Equal Employment Opportunities and Women’s Rights Commissioner, Jackie Blue, said in a statement online that a workplace can often be the only place a victim feels safe.
“An employer with a family violence policy and practices, such as paid leave, can provide a forward path for family violence victims to gain confidence and break the abusive cycle,” she said.
The new law is set to come into place in April 2019.