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New Zealand's police deal with domestic violence incidents every four minutes, according to Green MP, Jan Logie.

 

In an effort to help victims, the New Zealand government has just made history by becoming the first country to adopt a bill to ensure domestic violence victims have ten days paid leave from work.

 

The vote was passed by 63 votes to 57 on Wednesday, with MPs cheering and clapping as the results came in.

 

The move is to offer relief to victims to re-establish a life for themselves and their children away from an abusive partner.

 

 

The bill was seven years of hard work from Green MP Jan Logie, who made the proposal after her experience in a women’s refuge before she entered into politics.

 

It wasn't entirely a smooth passing as the bill was met with some opposition from National MPs, who originally supported it but then changed their stance, claiming the cost to smaller and medium-sized businesses would be too great.

 

The opposition also highlighted that employers may discriminate against people who they suspect are victims of domestic abuse and opt to hire someone else. 

 

However, as the results came in, Logie teared up and said the success of the bill was the first step in tackling New Zealand's endemic and encouraged other countries to adopt a similar law.

 

 

“Part of this initiative is getting a whole-of-society response. We don’t just leave it to police but realise we all have a role in helping victims. It is also about changing the cultural norms and saying ‘we all have a stake in this and it is not OK’,” said Logie.

 

The new legislation will be effective from April of next year. Currently, family violence is costing New Zealand an estimated NZ $4.1bn to $7bn annually, according to The Guardian.

 

The law will give victims ten days paid leave from work, which will not be deducted from their standard holidays and sick leave time.

 

In addition, they will not have to prove their circumstances and will be allowed fast-tracked flexible work conditions to make sure they are protected.

 

 

These include being entitled to change their job location and their email address and, have their contact details withdrawn from the business’s website.

 

“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,” said Logie.

 

“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 on their partner. It is very common.”

 

 

Welcoming the news of the bill is family violence groups, including Dr Ang Jury, the chief executive of Women's Refuge who said it was "a significant step in the right direction."

 

“We know women’s economic situation is pivotal to her choices that decides what she can and can’t do. If she can retain her job and retain the confidence of her employer, whilst still dealing with domestic issues, then that is great news,” she said.

 

However, she did add that despite the bill being significant it wasn't a “magic bullet.”

 

Shine is a charity organisation set up to help victims of domestic abuse, a spokesperson Holly Carrington, commented on the legislation saying:

 

“It sets a solid benchmark for what businesses are legally required to do and we need to be clear that employers can do this from a perspective of self-interest, because by helping those staff they will be retaining valuable employees and improving productivity.”

 

If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic abuse, call Women's aid for support and advice.

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