We’ve recently heard some negativity around the new Family Violence legislation. There seem to be concerns that this legislation is unnecessary, will end up being costly to employers, and is open to abuse, much like sick leave can be seen by some as an extra 5 days of leave, a given right. Here’s our thoughts on this which will hopefully provide a little perspective.
Family Violence is a very real problem in New Zealand. We have the highest rate in the developed world, our police attend around 200 family violence incidents a day, and despite this they estimate that only 18% of family violence is actually reported. About half of the homicides and violent crime in NZ are due to family violence.
However, people who are impacted by family violence mostly don’t talk about it. It is extremely difficult for them to ask for help. They often feel shame, and believe they are at fault. If they have reached the point where they are asking for help, you can be sure they are pretty much at the end of their tether.
In terms of the risk of false claims, we believe this is extremely unlikely, mainly because of the stigma associated with family violence. Whilst it’s true that some people fake illness in order to take sick leave, we believe the likelihood of people faking being a victim of family violence is minimal. For most people, this is as hard to imagine doing as lying about having cancer. And remember, employers still have the right to ask for proof if they have genuine doubts.
We believe that in reality the impact on businesses will be minimal. Certainly the businesses that already offer this support (e.g. The Warehouse Group and ANZ) report that employees do not lie about being victims of family violence.
More importantly though, what’s the impact if we don’t offer this support? If you have provided a safe enough environment that someone being abused feels they can ask for help, your actions may end up saving their life. If you don’t, one of your staff members could become another statistic. It’s real. These are your people. Keep them safe.
If you’re keen to make this legislation change into a positive for your workplace, then feel free to get in touch with us here at Spice HR. We can help you to establish a policy and processes that work for you. Drop us a line today.