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Domestic violence paid leave law passes in NZ

New Zealand has voted to pass a bill giving domestic violence victims 10 days’ additional time off work on top of existing entitlements

Domestic violence victims in New Zealand will now be able to take two weeks’ paid leave to make arrangements to protect themselves and their families.

The country’s politicians voted to pass the bill giving victim’s 10 days’ additional time off on top of existing holiday and sickness entitlements, granting them time to leave their partners and find new homes for themselves and their children.

Green Party member Jan Logie, who introduced the bill, told parliament: “In this beautiful, gutsy, vibrant country of ours, police are called out to family violence incidents every four minutes. That’s only about 20 to 25 per cent of incidents.

“We have a problem and we will not solve this problem by continuing to focus all of our resources and efforts on what happens after the police have been called.”

New Zealand has one of the highest rates of domestic violence in the developed world, with family violence estimated to cost the country between NZ$4.1bn and $7bn. The country’s homicide rate is also doubled that of Australia.

The bill was opposed by the centre-right opposition National Party, which argued that it would lead to employers avoiding hiring staff that they thought could be at risk of family violence.

The new legislation will come into effect in April of next year, with victims not required to provide proof of their circumstances. Victims will be entitled to fast-tracked flexible work conditions designed to ensure their ongoing safety.

“Domestic violence doesn’t respect that split between work and life. A huge amount of research tells us a large number of abusive partners bring the violence into the workplace,” Logie said in The Guardian.

“Be that by stalking their partner, by constant emails or phone calls or threatening them or their workmates. And some of that is about trying to break their attachment to their job to get them fired or get them to quit so they are more dependent.”

In March, Australia’s Fair Work Commission voted to allow five days’ unpaid leave for domestic violence victims but turned down a union proposal to introduce 10 paid days. The Philippines introduced similar leave provisions in 2004.

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