New Zealand granted domestic violence victims paid leave, and this is a huge step forward

Unfortunately, people face domestic violence all over the world — no matter age, race, nationality, religion, or income status. However, New Zealand is standing up for survivors of domestic abuse. Today, July 26th, the New Zealand parliament passed a law that will grant paid leave to workers in abusive situations.

According to NPR, the new law passed 63 to 57 and will take effect on April 1st, 2019. Under the legislation, anyone who is in an abusive situation will be able to request as many as 10 days of paid leave to hopefully escape their abuser. In addition, people facing domestic abuse will be able to ask for more flexible working hours. Known as the Violence Victims’ Protection Bill, it was introduced in 2016 and overseen by Green Party MP Jan Logie.

Although opponents of the bill have argued that it would cost small and medium-sized businesses money, Logie argued in a speech before parliament that domestic violence often impacts employees at work.

"All too often, victims have to leave their jobs because of this, and it makes them more reliant on their abusive partner, and means their employer has to recruit and train up new staff," Logie said. "It's a lose-lose situation."

In 2017, NZ Heraldreported that New Zealand has the highest rate of domestic violence in the world, with about 105,000 family violence calls in 2016. New Zealand’s Equal Employment Opportunities and Women’s Rights Commissioner, Jackie Blue, argued in a statement posted to the Human Rights Commission’s website that employers should be supporting their employees and that this new policy would be instrumental in bringing about change.

"An employer with a family violence policy and practices, such as paid leave, can provide a forward path for family violence victims to gain confidence and break the abusive cycle," she said in the statement.

According to BBC News, New Zealand is the second country to grant domestic abuse victims paid leave. The Philippines passed a similar law in 2004.

New Zealand’s new law is a huge step toward providing survivors of domestic abuse the support they need. We hope that someday domestic violence will be a thing of the past, but in the meantime, we’d love to see more countries adopt laws like this one.

If you or someone you know is in an abusive situation, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.

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