New Zealand became the first country in the world to implement paid leave for survivors of domestic violence when it passed the Domestic Violence Victims’ Protection Bill on Wednesday night.
The bill was introduced to Parliament by Green Party MP Jan Logie, and passed with 63 votes for and 57 votes against. It will go into place in April next year.
This makes New Zealand the first country in the world to have a law of this kind. While several Canadian provinces have similar laws, and Canada’s federal government announced its intention to give survivors 5 days paid leave in this year’s budget, it is not yet the law there.
This is a world first! Green MP Jan Logie MP's bill for the victims of domestic violence will be law from April next year. Domestic violence is something that we all have a stake in reducing so it's wonderful to see this finally happen.
Posted by Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand on Tuesday, 24 July 2018
The bill is the result of seven years of hard work from Logie, activists and unions across New Zealand.
According to Women’s Refuge New Zealand, 60% of victims of domestic violence were in full-time employment before they entered an abusive relationship, but only 27.5% stayed employed during the relationship.
Speaking to John Campbell of Radio New Zealand, Logie argued that the bill not only benefits victims, but businesses too.
“Too many businesses don’t know how to respond… they lose great staff, or they lose productivity because everyone else in the workplace is trying to work out how do they keep her safe, and not having the support to know how to do that.”
The loss of employment and the support it provides is severely felt. Many abusive partners seek to control their victims by limiting their contact with the outside world, because if a victim becomes reliant on their abuser as their only means of financial and emotional support, they will be less likely to leave.
By enshrining paid domestic violence leave in law, New Zealand is helping victims have one less thing to worry about when they are trying to leave abusive relationships. They won’t have to worry about money, or potentially losing their job, and can focus on more immediate and important concerns like their safety.
It makes sense – if you can get paid leave for being sick, why shouldn’t you get it when you’re trying to leave an abusive and horrific situation?
In March, the Fair Work Commission here in Australia ruled that all Australian employees covered by modern awards should be entitled to up to five days of unpaid leave if they need to deal with the impact of domestic violence, which is a far cry from the ten days of paid leave that was recommended by unions and that is now law in New Zealand.
Survivors of abuse don’t just need time to heal and piece their lives back together, they need resources too; the ACTU places the cost of leaving an abusive relationship at as much as $18,000. Without financial support in the form of paid leave, victims may feel unable to leave their abusive partners.