by Comprehensive Staff

11/09/2017 6:34 pm

Domestic Violence and the Workplace

A recent article on the mybusiness.com website reviews the impacts domestic violence can have on productivity and safety in the workplace. For many years, workplace safety programs have emphasized the potential risks that domestic violence situations can present for the workplace. Individuals experiencing domestic violence may miss work, find it difficult to concentrate, or be subject to upsetting phone calls while at work. The abusive partner can pose a significant external risk when it comes to violence in the workplace. One recent survey indicated that 48 percent of employees experiencing domestic violence confided in a manager at their place of work. Unfortunately, only 10 percent found their manager’s response to be helpful. The article emphasizes the importance of three key elements when responding to domestic violence in the workplace: Recognize, Respond, & Refer.

Behaviors that may indicate an employee is experiencing domestic violence include:

-Frequently arriving to work very early or very late
-Frequent personal phone calls that leave the employee distressed
-Difficulty concentrating and making decisions
-Not attending out-of-office hours work functions or engaging socially with colleagues
-Ill health and increased leave usage
-Wanting to resign or relocate

If an employee has chosen to take the difficult step of sharing their experience of violence or abuse, it is essential to respond in an appropriate and supportive manner. First, take what the person is saying at face value, and practice listening without judging. Be supportive, encouraging, open and honest. The article suggests some practical steps to consider that may make the person feel safer and more supported:

-Offer to screen their phone calls or install caller ID on their phone if they think it would be helpful
-Change their email address and remove their details from the organization’s directories
-Encourage the employee to alter their daily travel route
-Arrange for priority parking close to the building entrance
-Organize for them to be accompanied to and from their car
-Alert key staff with full consent and ensure they are discreet at all times
-Ensure employee’s workstation is not easily accessible for someone entering from outside

Accommodations such as special leave, flexible schedules, and office or other environmental changes discussed above to promote safety and security, will likely help the employee feel safer in the workplace. However, external supports may also be necessary such as referring the employee to your company’s Employee Assistance Program or local domestic violence services. These referrals can provide the employee with additional information on crisis shelters, domestic violence orders, as well as connecting the employee with longer-term counseling and support services.