Domestic Violence Bill passes; National misses point

Yesterday the support available for people suffering from domestic violence took a giant leap forward. Green Member of Parliament Jan Logie’s Bill of Parliament to allow people suffering domestic violence to take up to 10 days off work with pay, means that people in the throes of an abusive relationship are able to take time off work to get their lives back in order.

I congratulate Ms Logie on her Bill of Parliament, the Domestic Violence: Victims Protection Bill, which passed through on its third reading with a vote of 63 (Labour, New Zealand First and the Greens supported it ) – 57 (National and A.C.T. opposed it). It improves and/or introduces a number of protections for people suffering the effects of domestic violence. They include:

  • Making it illegal to discriminate against victims of domestic violence
  • Employers must allow up to 10 days of paid leave that is separate from annual leave or sick leave

National Member of Parliament Mark Mitchell said National had withdrawn its support for the Bill of Parliament. He cited the additional costs put on employers and said that it would do nothing to stop domestic violence. Whilst opposing the Bill National M.P.’s insisted that they agree with the spirit in which the Bill was written.

Mr Mitchell misses the point and his claims are probably not quite true. There will be people – maybe not a huge number – who will be able to use it as a circuit breaker. For them those 10 days might critical time in which they can end a relationship, get into a safe house and make contact with the Police.

But it will go one step further. Employees coming from a stable domestic life are more likely to be effective and productive workers. So while employers will pay up to 10 days leave for someone suffering domestic violence, if it leads to them having more secure and stable domestic circumstances then in the longer term it will hopefully lead to improved workplace performance.

So, let us welcome what will now become an Act of Parliament that makes the tortuous path that victims of domestic violence must follow hopefully a bit less treacherous.

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