Employers typically take violence in the workplace seriously. But for a long time, another threat just as devastating has been lurking in the workplace shadows: domestic violence.
There’s a widespread understanding of the grave impact domestic violence has on personal lives and the havoc it wreaks on families and communities. Now more attention is being paid to its effect at work.
Sometimes, incidents of domestic violence actually happen in the workplace. But the impact goes far beyond immediate safety concerns.
“While it is certainly aissue, [domestic violence] as a workplace issue should concern employers from a productivity, , presenteeism, turnover and health care perspective,” says Kim Wells, executive director of the Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence. “It is in an employer’s enlightened self-interest to address this issue to guard its greatest workplace asset—its employees.”
In recent years, several states have enacted laws that provide domestic violence victims time off from work to address the problem. The details of each state’s laws vary significantly. Find a link to each state’s law at: www.BusinessManagementDaily.com/domestic.
What employers can do
Because the impact of domestic violence reaches deeply into a company’s culture, employers should reassess policies and make domestic violence an HR priority. Four sensible practices can help you help employees prevent domestic violence and lessen its impact.
1. Revise your policies to comply with state and local domestic violence leave laws and to provide security and protection to employees. Policies should address confidentiality, anti-discrimination, absences, relocation or shift changes to prevent contact with an abuser, investigation of complaints of sexual and physical violence by employees and how to obtain protection orders.
2. Train employees, particularly supervisors, to be aware of domestic violence and its impact on employees, families and business. Train everyone to recognize the signs of domestic violence. Include how to help victims get to a safe place away from the threat of more violence. Use HR newsletters and e-mail messages to deliver information on how employees can prevent, recognize and deal with domestic violence.
3. Include domestic violence prevention, intervention and assistance in your benefits package. Provide domestic violence counseling and victim assistance as part of your(EAP). Your EAP provider can help you prepare take-home information about who is at risk and signs of abuse and abusive relationships.
4. Support local organizations providing domestic violence services and education for violence victims and families. Encourage managers and employees to volunteer with organizations working on domestic violence issues. Offer to host or sponsor domestic violence conferences and workshops. Consider underwriting grants to help domestic-violence-related nonprofits.
Final note: While most domestic violence initiatives focus on victims, consider what to do if one of your employees is the one perpetrating the violence. Your first concern must be for maintaining a safe workplace—rely on a sound(and law enforcement if necessary) to minimize risk at work. Beyond that, encourage batterers to seek assistance, especially by including coverage for batterers’ treatment in plans.
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