Workplaces having policies in place for staff dealing with family violence issues is an idea Whanganui Family Violence Intervention Network co-ordinator Clare Fearnley is encouraging and one she says is beginning to catch on.

Ms Fearnley said adopting policies such as providing staff who are going through family violence issues with time off was a simple step but one which supported employees hugely.

"This is something that is just generally good practice," she said. "Giving that time off is going to take the stress of that worker. This is gradually taking off in New Zealand."

And it had benefits for employers as well.

Advertisement

"You get a reputation as a good employer and staff morale increases because people feel safe and supported. The long term is you have lower staff turnover," Ms Fearnley said.

"Your productivity and continuity of business is better assured."

She hoped more Whanganui employers would get on board and has offered her own support.

"They don't have to invent the wheel themselves. We've got a tool kit that we've developed ... which outlines basic steps they may consider taking," she said.

"It feels like now the time has come where people are recognising that it's do-able."

One local employer that had taken such steps in recent years was Whanganui District Council, which adopted a manager's guide for family violence awareness and support in the workplace.

"This provides advice to managers about how to support a staff member who is experiencing family violence, or wants to stop violence toward a family member," group manager human resources Danny Harrison said.

"We also provide time off, or counselling, through our Employee Assistance Programme for staff who are going through family violence issues."

Meanwhile, the council's Safer Whanganui project leader Lauren Tamehana is involved with community groups working to prevent family violence and to help promote ways to seek help for people who experience it.

"We also have pages on our website about where to go for help if people are experiencing family violence, which we keep regularly updated in conjunction with the Whanganui Family Violence Intervention Network," Mr Harrison said.

The Warehouse also launched a "Family violence - it's not ok" initiative in its stores across the country last year.

It provides up to 10 days paid leave per year in addition to existing leave entitlements for medical appointments, legal proceedings or other activities related to family violence.

Staff can also take unpaid leave to support a person who is a victim of family violence and who may need to be accompanied to court, a medical provider, or to care for children.

-For more information about and employers' role in preventing family violence visit: www.areyouok.org.nz/i-want-change/business/

Whanganui businesses wanting to talk to someone about what policy they can implement in their workplace can contact Whanganui Family Violence Intervention Network co-ordinator Clare Fearnley on 06 345 6681.