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New Zealand fights family abuse with new paid domestic violence leave

New Zealand fights family abuse with new paid domestic violence leave
New Zealand has passed a law granting victims of domestic violence paid leave. The legislation is a first in the Western world and has been hailed as a groundbreaking measure for those in abusive relationships.

The Domestic Violence-Victims Protection Bill, introduced by Green MP Jan Logie in 2016, was passed in parliament on Wednesday, by a margin of 63 votes to 57.

The legislation, which will come into effect in April next year, will entitle victims of domestic violence to 10 days paid leave. This paid time off is intended to give victims the chance to leave their partners, find new homes and protect themselves and their children.

Official data shows New Zealand has one of the highest domestic violence rates in the developed world. Family homicide rates are more than twice those of Australia, Canada and Britain on a per capita basis and the estimated cost of family violence to the country is estimated at up to $7bn annually.

READ MORE: Male domestic abuse victims up 40% in just one UK county as thousands more report offense

Some members of parliament opposed to the bill argued that the move would put huge pressure on small and medium-sized businesses, however, Logie does not believe that will be the case.

"This bill is a win for victims, a win for business and ultimately a win for all of us," she said, arguing that the initial costs would be rapidly offset by returns from lower turnover and increased productivity.

Under the new law victims will also be able to request flexible working arrangements. Research carried out by Women's Refuge previously found that 60 percent of New Zealand women who had been in a violent relationship were in full-time work before that relationship began, but fewer than half managed to stay in it.

Domestic violence support groups have welcomed the move.

As it stands the Philippines is the only other country that makes a provision for paid leave for those suffering domestic violence. A measure extending ten days of paid leave to victims was introduced in 2004.

In March of this year Australia's Fair Work Commission voted to allow five days of unpaid leave for domestic abuse victims - a labour union push to match the New Zealand proposal was rejected.