Domestic Violence and the Workplace: What Employers Should Know
Every employer should consider adopting a domestic violence workplace policy to protect their employees and their business.
“It’s important to create a response to domestic violence in the workplace,” Linda Blozie, director of training and prevention at the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence, said March 18 during CBIA’s 2021 Human Resources Conference.
“Domestic violence not only affects your employees—for you it can become a security and liability issue.”
U.S. Department of Labor statistics show that domestic violence victims in the U.S. lose eight million days of paid work each year, resulting in a $1.8 billion loss in productivity.
“Domestic violence can be a performance concern and a productivity concern,” Blozie said.
“It’s important to understand its impact on employers and employees, and how to recognize and respond to domestic violence in the workplace.”
In cases where an employer suspects domestic violence but the employee is not forthcoming, Blozie suggests a gentle approach.
Share information with the employee, including your workplace policy and any domestic violence resources in your community.
“Let the employee know you care about their safety, and if they want to talk, that you’re here,” Blozie said.
She noted that one of every three women and one of seven men will experience domestic violence at some point in their lives, and that it inevitably spills into the workplace.
“It’s one thing if you have one employee who’s experiencing domestic violence,” she said.
“But when you get into larger companies and corporations, or even midsize companies, it could be conceivable that you have more than one employee who is experiencing domestic violence.”
Blozie said a domestic violence workplace policy should have these components:
- Clearly defined unacceptable behavior prohibited by the policy
- Prompt reporting of suspected violations and any circumstances that raise safety concerns due to violence
- Multiple avenues for reporting, including human resources or a supervisor
- Assurances that anyone filing a report is treated with the highest degree of discretion and that the employer will promptly investigate the matter
- A commitment to not retaliate against employees who make a good-faith report
- Requiring or encouraging employees to notify clearly identified personnel of any protective or restraining orders they’ve obtained that list the workplace as a protected area
An ideal workplace policy includes education and training to prevent violence and promotes healthy relationships for employees and their families.
It should also create a healthful workplace that helps employees avoid using violence in any context, and standardize responsive policies and procedures to help employees impacted by violence.
“It’s important that organizations institute policy as part of their commitment to a safer and more supportive organizational climate, and to the prevention and reduction of incidents and impacts of domestic violence and stalking in the workplace,” Blozie said.
“Domestic violence and stalking present really unique issues for the workplace.”
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