New Zealanders should have the opportunity to debate a new law giving victims of domestic violence a statutory right to leave or to request flexible working arrangements, a group of NGOs and trade unions has said.
In an open letter to the Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Michael Woodhouse, the group calls on the government to vote in favour of referring the legislation to Select Committee.
The TEU has written separately to the Minister saying that allowing for a debate at Select Committee offered a unique opportunity to discuss the measures New Zealand should take to address domestic violence.
The Domestic Violence Victims’ Protection Bill would give victims of domestic violence the right to request up to 10 days leave to access vital services, including doctors’ appointments, legal proceedings or relocation support.
To be debated at Select Committee, the bill will have to pass its first reading on 8 March, which coincides with International Women’s Day.
Should the bill pass this hurdle members of the public will be invited to contribute to the debate on the proposed law.
Suzanne McNabb, the TEU’s national women’s officer, urged all MPs to get behind the bill and vote in favour of allowing a public debate on the issue.
“The impacts of family violence are widespread and an enormous cost to our society, not simply financially. The consequences extend to workplaces. New Zealanders should have the opportunity to debate how we as a country are going to address these issues,” said McNabb.
McNabb urged people to write to their local MP to encourage them to vote for the bill at first reading.