Domestic violence is a workplace issue and bosses should care what happens to staff outside work, says Westpac chief executive David McLean.

Westpac is the first organisation to earn a DVFREE Tick - an accreditation that recognises the bank's comprehensive domestic violence programme.

The tick, awarded by domestic violence service provider Shine, ensures an organisation provides a safe and supportive workplace for staff who are experiencing violence at home.

The organisation must also raise awareness about domestic violence and have staff who know what to do if they suspect a colleague is experiencing or perpetrating it.


McLean said that by the end of this year Westpac would have 20 specially trained staff who were assigned when someone asked for help and would connect them with further support.

Westpac's security team could also be involved and develop a safety plan for an affected staff member, who would be offered extra leave.

McLean said he had come to realise domestic violence was a "workplace issue" and did not agree it was only a private matter.

"We've always thought it was a serious issue for society and that someone should do something about it but about 18 months, two years ago [we had] the realisation there's an important role for the workplace in helping deal with it," he said.

"Having staff who are injured or abused at home is something we should care about ... the workplace can be a safe place for people who are affected by this to reach out and get help and often people who are subjected to domestic violence find it difficult in the home environment to reach out and get help but if you're at work eight hours of the day and the work environment is saying 'we can help you', that can make a big difference," McLean said.

He hopes other businesses will follow suit and is offering Westpac's material to any that want it.

"I would like other employers to recognise that the workplace can be a safe place for people and that they should care about what happens to their staff outside work as well as at work ... we don't see this as some competitive advantage for Westpac but it's something that I think society would be better off if employers generally looked at."

Shine communications manager Holly Carrington said the organisation was working with 10 companies that were on their way to getting the DVFREE Tick.

It was important employers let their staff know that if they told someone about domestic violence they would get the support they needed, she said. Bosses were starting to understand how prevalent domestic violence was and that there was a strong likelihood their staff would be affected by it.

Carrington said one in three New Zealand women experienced a physical or sexual assault in her lifetime.

Other businesses such as Vodafone, the Warehouse and Countdown also have domestic violence programmes.