On Monday April 1st, the Domestic Violence Victims Protection Act became active. Shine experts were interviewed by Nine to Noon, Newshub (TV3 news), The AM Show, The Project and Stuff about what employers can and should be doing to support staff who experience domestic violence. Shine’s Holly Carrington also wrote a column for The Spinoff. Some key points Shine made were:
- It’s critical to have appropriate people as ‘First Responders, who are trained by specialists and prepared to respond safely to staff disclosures of domestic violence.
- It’s critical to help staff with workplace safety planning who are at risk of ongoing abuse.
- Shine’s DVFREE workplace programme offers FREE Guidelines for Policy & Procedures that provide helpful and practical advice for employers, available from www.dvfree.org.nz.
- Shine’s DVFREE programme provides training for First Responders and for managers – with options to train a group of staff at an employer’s venue, or for individuals to register for one of their open workshops in Auckland or Wellington, and soon in Christchurch as well.
- Employees and employers can seek support, information and advice from Shine’s specialist tollfree Helpline 0508-744-633, answered 7 days a week, 9am to 11pm.
Watch the AM Show interview with Holly (video and article)
Don’t be the employer that asks for proof of domestic violence
Domestic violence is often invisible in the workplace until victims feel reassured that it is safe—and worthwhile—to disclose. So it’s easy for employers to believe it doesn’t happen ‘in my business’ or ‘in this sector’.
Possibly the most important thing an employer can do is to appoint the right people as ‘first responders’, and provide these people with specialist training. The second important step to take is to make sure that all staff know they can go to one of these people for help and support if they are experiencing domestic violence.
The law also allows employers to require ‘proof’ of the domestic violence before responding to such requests. Shine strongly urges employers to NOT require such proof. This is akin to telling an employee experiencing domestic violence that ‘we will not believe you’, and will stop people from requesting this support…
A number of large employers like Westpac and Stuff have been offering paid domestic violence leave without requiring proof for a couple of years or more. These employers vouch that the uptake is low, generally in increments of hours or 1-2 days, with no suspected or known instances of employees lying about their situation to access this leave.”