Warehouse Group to offer staff paid domestic violence leave

The New Zealand retailer has announced plans to offer thousands of employees domestic violence leave.

Warehouse Group to offer staff paid domestic violence leave
The Warehouse Group is offering staff members affected by domestic violence additional paid leave.

Last week, the retailer announced that victimised employees would be entitled to an extra ten days off each year, on top of existing leave, to allow staff to attend medical appointments, go to court, and seek refuge.

Fairfax Media reported that the entitlement will be extended to workers at all of the Warehouse Group’s subsidiaries, including Noel Leeming, Warehouse Stationery and online retailers – totalling around 12,000 employees.

Employees will also have access to unpaid leave to allow them to take time off to support family violence victims.

Mark Powell, CEO of the Warehouse Group, said that the extra leave – which will be available to men and women – would enable staff to put themselves in a safer position without the fear of suffering financially as a consequence.

He added that the Warehouse Group had a charitable partnership with Women’s Refuge, and had taken on the initiative based on the charity’s recommendation.

Powell said that it was important for employers to be aware of cases in which their staff were in crisis, rather than the employees resigning due to stress.

“Often it wouldn't be reported to us, and that's part of the issue,” he said.

According to Fairfax, staff will not be required to provide evidence that they are being affected by domestic violence, but leave would be reviewed if it became apparent that the leave was being exploited.

Powell said that staff confidentiality would be protected under every circumstance.

Auckland's Inner City Women's Group agency manager Prachi Mittal told Fairfax that securing protection orders, changing accommodation, and finding new childcare could take weeks.

“[Victims] need to keep their jobs more than ever, because they are going out on their own and they need to support themselves and the kids,” she said.

“It’s a mind-numbing time. The situation often becomes so stressful they end up leaving their job.”

Over the past two years, the Public Service Association (PSA) has been campaigning for state sector employers to provide their workforces with access to ten days of domestic violence leave.

As of yet, only the Government Communications Security Bureau has done so.

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