New Zealand MP, Jan Logie, initially proposed a new bill that introduced paid employment leave for victims of domestic violence in December 2016. Despite arguments from the opposition that the bill could dissuade employers from hiring people whom they suspected may be suffering from domestic violence, it successfully passed through New Zealand’s Parliament in July 2018, with 63 votes to 57.
The new Domestic Violence – Victims’ Protection Bill grants victims of domestic violence 10 days paid leave from work in addition to their already contracted holiday and sick leave. It is hoped that this can support employees and facilitate finding alternative housing, attending court dates, and ultimately better ensure permanent removal from dangerous family members. The importance of this bill is evident in light of research that shows that 60.1% of women were in full-time employment prior to entering into an abusive relationship, but this then dropped to 27.5% during the relationship .
There is understandable difficulty in maintaining a full-time career while in a manipulative and controlling relationship. Jan Logie highlighted that domestic violence is not restricted to the home as it also affects work life . For example, victims of domestic violence have experienced harassment at work from controlling partners. Therefore, the necessity of introducing legislation that is sensitive to and mitigates the impact of domestic violence on work life is clear. The new bill aims to do so by also allowing victims of domestic violence the opportunity to request flexible working arrangements.
While the bill will come into effect in New Zealand in April 2019, a similar law in Australia, which grants 5 days paid leave for victims of domestic violence, came into effect on 1 August 2018.
Laura Marshall (Paralegal)