Countdown shares impact of family violence leave policy

Countdown WaihekeCountdown was one of the first companies in New Zealand to adopt a family violence leave policy across its business, and it is encouraging other retailers to do the same by the sharing the positive impact its policy has had for employees since it was implemented in November 2016.

Last week, Kiri Hannifin, the supermarket’s general manager of corporate affairs, safety and sustainability, revealed that Countdown has actively supported 28 team members impacted by family violence and provided more than 100 days of paid leave to team members through the policy. Eighty-six per cent of those seeking support have been female.

Hannifin was speaking alongside the Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety, Hon Iain Lees-Galloway, Under-Secretary Jan Logie and representatives from Shine and the Human Rights Commission at Countdown’s Cable Car Lane store on Thursday last week, ahead of the government’s Domestic Violence – Victims’ Protection Act, which is coming into effect on April 1.

“Countdown recognises what a significant issue family violence is and as a large employer we wanted to do something meaningful to support our team and show leadership on a really important issue,” Hannifin said.

“We are committed to providing a safe and supportive workplace at Countdown, and we care about our team and their families – so implementing this policy was just the right thing to do.”

The range of support Countdown has provided to date also includes free counselling sessions, including on-site; variations to hours; relocation; longer-term leave and facilitating where to seek extra support.

The policy has also opened up the conversation about family violence across the business, according to Hannifin.

“Through training, [we have] given our people skills on how to approach and talk to team members who are impacted by family violence,” she said.

“The more openly our country’s leaders and businesses talk about family violence, the easier we make it for people to ask for our help.

“That’s why the new Act is so important, not just because of the additional support it gives New Zealanders but because it sends a real signal to all of us that we each have a role to play.”

Hannifin added that Countdown is very willing to share its knowledge and learnings from the implementing the policy over the last few years, and she encouraged other businesses to think strongly about what they can do to support their team who might be impacted by family violence.

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