26 Mar 2019
For Presbyterian Support Northern
Specialist domestic violence charity Shine is now offering free guidelines on creating a workplace domestic violence programme and specialist training for employers, in preparation for the Domestic Violence - Victims' Protection Act 2018, coming into force on 1 April 2019.
The Act requires employers to provide up to ten days’ paid leave and flexible working arrangements for employees experiencing domestic violence.
Shine’s DVFREE Guidelines on Policy and Procedures are now free for download through its DVFREE website at www.dvfree.org.nz.
Shine’s DVFREE and Policy Advisor Holly Carrington says the free guidelines can help employers take a best-practice approach, rather than doing only the minimum required by law.
“We know New Zealand’s business owners and managers care deeply about their staff. But there are so many myths and misconceptions about domestic violence that common sense alone does not enable safe and effective support.
“Even though all employers will offer paid leave for domestic violence from 1 April, very few employees will ask for help,” says Holly. “Because this is such a sensitive issue, victims need to be confident the person they turn to at work has the ability to respond safely and effectively.
“One of the most important supports employers can provide for staff is workplace safety planning, which the new law provides little guidance on,” says Holly. “Shine helps employers implement practical procedures and training to help affected staff be safe at work. This could be, for example, by screening an employee’s phone calls and visitors, accompanying them to their carpark, and getting a trespass order to keep their abuser off the work site.
“Shine also provides important guidance on how to safely and appropriately manage staff who perpetrate domestic violence.”
This March, Shine also begins offering regular workshops that are open to individuals or small groups of up to four employees from one workplace.
“We are providing opportunities for all employers – regardless of sector or size – to learn from our experts and develop confidence in dealing with this issue,” says Holly. “For any business, being prepared and proactive in dealing with family violence can boost staff productivity, engagement and morale.”
Shine’s first open DVFREE trainings are on 19 March in Auckland and 26 March in Wellington, and cover topics including: the essentials of policies and procedures for a staff domestic violence programme, how to respond to disclosures of domestic violence, both in emergency and non-emergency situations, and the appropriate roles for managers versus ‘first responders’ in supporting employees experiencing domestic violence.
A lawyer from Bell Gully will also discuss relevant legal issues, particularly around managing staff who perpetrate domestic violence.
Westpac NZ General Manager Human Resources and Corporate Affairs Gina Dellabarca says that some employees have sought and received support since Westpac completed its DVFREE accreditation with Shine in 2017.
“The feedback we have had is that by having the right policies and procedures in place, people who otherwise may have been too embarrassed or scared to come forward knew they could seek help and would be well supported,” says Gina.
“We then have staff who are prepared to respond to these disclosures to provide effective support and safety planning.”
“It’s rewarding to know as an employer, staff can feel confident in seeking help. It’s a good feeling to know that we have avenues to help employees who are going through difficult times.”
Westpac, the Ministry of Justice, and the Parliamentary Service have attained the DVFREE Tick, with ten additional employers on their way to achieving the DVFREE Tick and dozens more engaged with various DVFREE services.
Shine’ free DVFREE Guidelines for Policy and Procedures can be downloaded at: www.dvfree.org.nz/dvfree-guidelines-for-policy-procedures
More information about the new DVFREE workshops: www.2shine.org.nz/shop/dvfree-workplace
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