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Family Violence and the Workplace 


Family violence is so common in New Zealand that many victims and perpetrators are in paid work. 

In fact, a 2014 report found that of the almost 270,902 reported victims of domestic violence, 41% or 111,070 were in fulltime employment. 

Domestic violence cost New Zealand employers an estimated $368 million in the year to June 2014, and places strain on workplace time and resources – particularly for co-workers of victims of Family Violence, who are often most effected. 

However, with the appropriate processes in place, the workplace can provide an ideal environment for intervention and raising awareness about family violence.

Family Violence – Workplace Action & Policies

Employers and workplaces can play a vital role in assisting victims of violence. The workplace can be one of the only safe places that victims of family violence can access support and information.

Taking some action towards preventing family violence doesn’t have to be a costly exercise for your business, but it can save you money in the long run by contributing to happier, safer and more productive members of staff.

You can help stop family violence by: 

1) Increasing understanding of family violence in your workplace

  • Hang posters in your business premises;
  • Make booklets and leaflets easily accessible in public spaces around work such as receptions, staff rooms and washrooms;
  • Remind staff and management of the issue at staff gatherings, in newsletters and other updates to staff/business partners.

2) Providing staff with information and training

  • Ask local family violence organisations such as SHINE and Women’s Refuge to come to the workplace and talk to staff;
  • Organise family violence awareness training for managers, supervisors, human resources staff, health and safety officers and others 

3) Developing workplace policies and procedures

You may already have an employee health and wellbeing policy or policies on harassment and bullying. A family violence policy can be easily incorporated into these.

A policy can include: 

  • An outline of what family violence is;
  • A statement about the workplace commitment to safety & security, and the unacceptability of family violence;
  • How your workplace will respond to concerns around harassment, bullying and family violence;
  • How you will support people experiencing family violence including:
    • making safety plans, 
    • referring to support agencies, 
    • allowing time off (some employers allow up to 10 days leave)
    • flexi time, 
    • screening calls, 
    • moving desks or offices to restrict the abusers access, 
    • varying work start and finishing times, 
    • accompanying effected staff to their car/bus,
    • access to counselling through EAP or other specialist services;
  • Who staff should go to if they are effected by family violence;
  • How the workplace will ensure the information remains confidential;
  • How the you will address the issue of employees who are violent and/or use work time and equipment to harass or abuse their partner.

When you have developed the policy:

  • Include reference to the policy in employment contracts
  • Talk about it in staff meetings;
  • Ensure staff induction covers the policy;
  • Display the policy in a prominent place

Resources for Employers regarding family Violence Education in the Workplace.

There are a number of organisations that employers can contact to provide staff training and awareness around family violence. Staff who are victims of family violence can also be referred to these organisations for support and assistance.

Women’s Refuge: One-day training course for professionals, community workers, teachers, health workers and anyone working with women and children who have experienced domestic violence.

Shine: DVFREE workplace programme for employers, includes consultation on policy, awareness raising and training.

Email: [email protected] for more information about DVFREE and training that can be offered to your organisation.

Shine also offer posters and pamphlets providing information about their national toll-free Helpline that can be displayed and distributed in the workplace.

ARE YOU OKAY?: Provides information and resources about family violence and advice for employers about workplace safety and policies. Resources and information can be ordered from the website for employers to have available in their workplace.

WAVE (Workplaces against violence in employment)

Local family violence services

Are listed on

Other resources

For more information about the cost to New Zealand employers of Family Violence and the gains to be had from work place protection look at these this report:

Productivity Gains from Workplace Protection of Victims of Domestic Violence", 2014, Kahui, Ku and Snively.

For further information on the issues regarding family violence in New Zealand see:  

THE WAY FORWARD An Integrated System for Intimate Partner Violence and Child Abuse and Neglect in New Zealand” Ruth Herbert and Deborah Mackenzie

The Peoples report: The Inquiry into addressing child abuse and domestic violence”, 2014, The Glenn Inquiry