Domestic violence costs employers $368 million

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New Zealand businesses are losing $368 million a year because of domestic violence according to new research. And the report argues that if businesses want to stop losing money and increase productivity then they need to start helping their employees who are victims of domestic violence.

Commissioned by the Public Service Association and released to coincide with the launch of Green MP Jan Logie's anti-domestic violence member’s bill, the Productivity Gains from Workplace Protection of Victims of Domestic Violence report states that there is increasing evidence introducing workplace protection measures for victims saves employers on recruitment and retraining costs and improves productivity.

"For every woman whose experience of violence is prevented as result of the workplace protections in a particular year, an average of $3371 in production-related costs can be avoided," the report said.

Additionally the report, authored by economist Suzanne Snively, states 30 years of research on the issue shows staying in employment is critical to reducing the effects of violence.

"Security of employment enables those affected by domestic violence to maintain personal, family, financial and economic stability, in this way assisting them to find a pathway out of violence and to successfully build their lives," it said.

In the absences of workplace protection the report estimated that from the negative effects of domestic violence businesses lost 110,209 hours (17,493 days) due to victims leaving work early or arriving late in a year while 8,104,773 hours (950,725 days) are lost due to victims being distracted at work.

Failure by business to act on domestic violence could cost employers $3.7 million when combined over the next 10 years and if nothing is to be done by 2024 the number of working hours lost through domestic violence is estimated to be 14.4 million hours (2.3 million days) according to the report which suggests a number of recommendations for employers.

To tackle the issue the report recommends employers:
  • create and implement tailored domestic violence human resources policies that can be integrated with existing health and safety policies;
  • introduce training to inform employees about domestic violence, their rights in relation to domestic violence in the workplace and the protocols and procedures surrounding the issue;
  • allow victims to take up to 10 days special leave to address and resolve domestic violence problems;
  • raise awareness of the economic cost of domestic violence;
  • and provide greater flexibility in working arrangements for victims such as ability to move to another location, change to start and finish times or ability to request receptionist to monitor calls.
The Human Rights Commission is supporting the research with Jackie Blue, Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner for the Human Rights Commission, stating that all employers should consider reading the report.

“What this research demonstrates is that, even on very conservative measures, supporting victims of domestic violence pays off - both in terms of being good employers and in terms of the bottom line.”

To read the full report click here.

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