Kiwi employers making progress on domestic violence leave
28 Aug 2019
- 30% of SME employers have already implemented a plan to manage domestic violence leave since April 2019.
New Zealand’s small to medium sized businesses have been making significant strides in adopting policies about domestic violence leave since the legislation was introduced in April, with 30% saying they have already implemented a policy to manage leave, according to a new MYOB Business Monitor Snapshot of local employers.
The survey also revealed 47% of SMEs had not put a plan in place, while 14% said they didn’t know.
The survey asked employers if they, or any of their staff, had taken domestic violence leave since the legislation was introduced. Five percent said one or more of their staff had taken the leave, while 80% said no one from their business had taken it.
MYOB head of employee services, Felicity Brown, said it was important for employers to put plans in place to appropriately manage and address domestic violence leave, training managers and senior staff where possible.
“Domestic violence is also a workplace issue – with team members’ emotional and physical wellbeing, ability to get to work, to feel safe at work, to perform well and to retain work, all being impacted,” she said.
“Abuse often follows its victims into the workplace through text messaging, phone calls and emails, so it’s critical to provide the support when it’s needed.
“Providing employees with domestic violence leave means those who are experiencing the impacts of abuse do not need to choose between their safety and financial security.”
Shine Domestic Violence Free (DVFREE) coordinator and senior trainer, Pip Ross, said New Zealand has the highest rates of domestic violence in the OECD, so everyone has a part to play in addressing domestic violence, including employers.
“The new Domestic Violence Victims Protection Act has prompted a surge of interest from businesses keen to learn more about how best to protect and support their staff,” she said.
“Since the legislation came into effect, Shine’s DVFREE programme has been working hard to keep up with the demand from employers.”
The legislation entitles employees affected by domestic violence to take up to 10 days of paid leave per year in order to deal with the effects of the abuse. Employees can also request a short-term variation to their working arrangements to which the employer must respond within 10 working days. The leave is separate from annual, sick and bereavement leave.
Ms Brown said MYOB extended its domestic violence leave policy to cover casual team members, as well as permanent and fixed term employees.
“Our casual team members are entitled to up to five days paid domestic violence leave. We believe that an individual’s employment status shouldn’t be a barrier to receiving paid leave to deal with the effects of abuse,” she said.
“We also take a ‘start with trust’ approach to the policy – meaning that while the legislation allows employers to request proof, we anticipate that the circumstances will be very rare where we ask for proof to take the leave.”
Prior to implementing the policy, MYOB had their employee assistance programme (EAP) provider run domestic violence awareness sessions with their managers and senior leaders. There was also an announcement informing all staff of the new policy.
“These sessions were designed to raise awareness and educate managers about domestic violence and how to be more aware of the characteristics, signs and symptoms of unhealthy relationships and abuse. We want our staff to feel safe at work, and to feel they can approach their managers in confidence,” said Ms Brown.
Ms Ross said there are practical steps employers can take to support people experiencing violence.
“Leave is just one of the ways to help people, along with flexible working arrangements, ensuring an appropriately trained staff member is available to provide guidance, and communicating a clear and active commitment to supporting a culture of non-violence,” she said.
Shine’s Guidelines for Policy and Procedure provide guidance on how to develop a best-practice domestic violence policy, encompassing all feasible actions necessary to keep victims of violence safe.
“Your domestic violence policy should also support ways to ensure the safety and security of everyone in the workplace, as domestic violence can often affect others alongside the primary victim,” said Ms Ross.
“A good policy will ensure that people who are affected by domestic violence are able to receive appropriate support in the workplace.”
Shine is able to connect employers to specialist advice on their rights and responsibilities when managing people who are victims of violence – or who use violence – in the workplace.
For further comment or other information please contact:
Michael Reilly, The Agency Communications, Communications Coordinator
Gerard Blank, The Agency Communications Limited Director
MYOB is a leading cloud-based business management solutions provider. It makes business life easier for approximately 1.2 million businesses across Australia and New Zealand by simplifying accounting, payroll, tax, practice management, CRM, websites, job costing, inventory and more. MYOB provides ongoing support via many client service channels including a network of over 40,000 accountants, bookkeepers and other consultants. It is committed to ongoing innovation, particularly in cloud computing solutions, and in 2015 was awarded the BRW award for the most innovative large company for 500+ employees and placed 2nd in BRW’s Most Innovative Companies Award list across all categories nationally. For more information, visit myob.co.nz or follow @MYOB on Twitter.
About the MYOB Business Monitor Snapshot
The MYOB Business Monitor Employers Snapshot is a national survey of 300 New Zealand-based small and medium sized business owners who employ two or more staff, including businesses with over 50 staff, representing the major industry sectors. This latest survey was conducted using Pure Profile’s business panel and was held online from June 12th to June 17th 2019.
Shine services businesses can use to find answers and support:
Shine offers the DVFREE Tick, a workplace certification for businesses committed to best practice in recognising and responding to domestic violence. If you are interested in pursuing this, contact Shine at firstname.lastname@example.org or find out more at dvfree.org.nz
The Shine Helpline 0508 744 633 is a confidential, free and national service which exists to support people who are experiencing violence as well as people who are trying to support friends, family, colleagues or loved ones who are experiencing violence. Our Helpline operators can provide a listening ear to anyone who wants to talk, as well as referral to specialist family violence services when the person feels ready to access them. The Helpline operates 9am – 11pm, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.