It's the agency responsible for dealing with family violence, but the Ministry of Social Development has rejected a clause to give staff affected by the issue special leave entitlements.

Critics have slammed the decision, saying they were "disappointed" and "saddened" by the rejection to establish special family violence leave last month.

The clause was part of negotiations to update contracts for the Public Service Association - the union for MSD staff.

An allocation of 10 days a year for staff affected by family violence would help undo stigma around the issue and make support easier to access for victims, said Green MP Jan Logie.


As the government department leading the It's Not OK campaign against family violence, MSD needed to offer more to its employees, Logie said.

"If the ministry that is leading the public discussion around social change to prevent domestic violence isn't able to get those provisions through their negotiations then we really do need to put this in legislation."

Logie's bill on domestic violence leave was drawn from the ballot last Thursday and will likely have its first reading in Parliament early next year.

It would provide legislation ensuring every workplace offered 10 days of domestic violence leave on top of sick and annual leave.

In New Zealand, family and intimate-partner violence is the worst in the world.

One in three women say they have experienced physical or sexual abuse by a partner.

Police attended 105,000 family violence incidents last year. On average, they take a call for help every five minutes - about 279 each day.

Domestic violence is estimated to cost the country between $4.1 billion and $7b each year.

Logie's bill has the backing of unions, with Council of Trade Unions secretary Sam Huggard saying many union-negotiated collective agreements already have leave provisions.

The PSA said it pushed for 10 days of domestic violence leave during contract negotiations in early November, but the ministry rejected them.

"All employers should offer 10 days' special leave to employees who are experiencing family violence," said PSA national organiser Kathy Higgins.

"We were able to persuade the ministry to broaden their existing policy to allow members to take special leave in the case of family violence without having to use annual leave first.

"This is an improvement, but we are disappointed the ministry was not prepared to include anything substantial in the new collective agreements."

However, the ministry stood by its decision, saying it took family violence "extremely seriously".

"Special leave is just one new strand of support that's been added to what we already provide for our staff," said manager Alan Cassidy.

"The inclusion of this clause ensures that both managers and staff are very clear about the supports available for our people experiencing family violence."

Logie acknowledged the ministry's decision was a step forward, but said special leave gave employers more power to refuse leave than targeted domestic violence leave did.

"There are more grounds for the employer to say no."

Logie said she was saddened that government sectors generally appeared to be lagging behind the private sector in implementing domestic violence clauses for staff.

"We've seen more and more businesses commit to this leave, with some of the more progressive companies like Countdown offering 10 days for people supporting domestic violence victims as well," she said.

"Government needs to step up and recognise that [the public sector] needs to be a responsible employer too."