Green Party MP Jan Logie’s Domestic Violence – Victims’ Protection Bill is before Parliament and RWNZ asks Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Michael Woodhouse and his fellow MPs to support the Bill.
The Bill seeks to address harms experienced by victims, by focusing on how workplaces can be made a safer and more accommodating place for victims. It would extend leave provisions to include domestic violence leave, as when women leave a violent situation it can be very hard for them to manage court proceedings, counselling, housing and the needs of their children without extra leave.
Work at a regular time and place can make work a target for the abuser, but with employer support through flexible working arrangements, that can be adjusted to support the employee.
“RWNZ believe that the Bill will have an impact on people who are victims of domestic violence and help support them when they need to leave the relationship,” says Fiona Gower, RWNZ National President.
“Rural women often have to travel long distances between home and work and it can be very difficult for them to move away from a violent relationship.
“The services for helping victims of domestic violence are mostly located in urban areas. Enabling rural women to take time off work to access services, is a step toward helping them to move away from a violent home, and setting a plan in place to rebuild their lives.”
RWNZ recently made a submission on the Government’s family violence law changes, in support of adding protection of animals to legislation. Violence to animals is often part of the package of abuse. Comments were also made about the lack of near-neighbours and isolation in general, also a woman’s support is often from friends and family of the perpetrator.
RWNZ have worked closely with the Ministry of Social Development on the campaign: ‘It’s Not OK‘. RWNZ have held several workshops with the Sophie Elliott Foundation spreading the message of how to recognise healthy relationships, and how to assist someone who is not in a healthy relationship.
Response to Supplementary Order Paper
On 1 May, the Justice and Electoral Committee published a Supplementary Order Paper (SOP), which proposes changes to the Domestic Violence-Victims’ Protection Bill.
These changes include allowing employees who have experienced domestic violence to request flexible arrangements no matter how long they have been an employee, requiring employers to respond to requests within a period of five working days once received, and allowing employees who have had their requests denied to seek urgent mediation.
Rural Women New Zealand has submitted on the SOP, believing that the proposed changes will be costly and onerous for rural employers. RWNZ has proposed that the government provide funding or reimbursement for employers for domestic violence paid leave; a recognition that the burden of compliance is greater for Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs), especially for those in rural and small towns; a timeframe for employers’ to provide flexible working arrangements that is reasonable and reflective of the nature of the business; and a stand down period should apply before any entitlement can apply.
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