The country’s largest retailer, The Warehouse Group, has launched a new initiative to support victims of family violence and encourage those affected by family violence to seek help.
The ‘Family violence – it’s not ok’ initiative will apply to all the companies in the group, including The Warehouse, Warehouse Stationery, Noel Leeming, Torpedo 7 and the company’s online retailers.
The initiative is available now and provides for 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 to enable victims of violence to take positive steps to protect themselves and their families.
It also provides for team members to 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.
The initiative also provides mechanisms to ensure that victims of violence have flexibility and protection from harassment at work.
Group general manager community and the environment Paul Walsh says the initiative makes clear that family violence is not OK, but that asking for help is, and will be supported by the company’s human resources procedures.
He said the purpose of the initiative was to enable victims of domestic violence to take action to move to a safer situation with minimal financial consequences from disruption to their work.
Team members are encouraged to call the company’s Organisational Counselling Programme for support if they are perpetrators of family violence, or become aware of potential issues.
Walsh said the company would work closely with professional agencies to support victims and perpetrators of family violence with advice and appropriate services.
He said that the group’s work with community partner Women’s Refuge, and other community groups, had brought home the extent of the problem in New Zealand, and the need for the company to play its part in seeking to address this social challenge.
Chief executive of the National Collective of Independent Women’s Refuges, Dr Ang Jury, said The Warehouse Group’s initiative was ‘gold standard’ in terms of the provisions outlined.
“Disruption to work can result in a significant financial impact for victims of domestic violence as they seek to improve their situation. Support from employers like this is an important factor. We hope this move by The Warehouse Group will inspire other companies to play their part in what needs to be a co-ordinated effort to address this issue in New Zealand.”
Chief people officer Anna Campbell says the new policies are in keeping with the company’s ‘people first’ philosophy and aligned to its support for families and the community.
Campbell said that while the company is already rated as RetailWorld ‘Retail Employer of the Year’, it would continue to seek to innovate in terms of its employment policies to attract and retain talented people and to grow the profile of retail as an attractive career choice.