October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. As business owners, leaders, and managers, we get to know and care about the people on our teams.
Most of us know that domestic violence is a reality but may believe it isn’t happening to the people we work with. So, I did some research to determine if this is something that most businesses and organizations should be concerned with.
Let me share some statistics I found.
- 1 in 4 women and 1 in 9 men in the U.S. will be victims of domestic violence in their lifetimes. (National Coalition Against Domestic Violence)
- According to the Department of Labor, nearly 8 million days of paid work per year are lost in the U.S. due to domestic violence, resulting in $1.8 billion in lost employee productivity.
- The Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence found that 21% of full-time employed adults said they were victims of domestic violence.
Okay, they’ve got my attention.
If people are struggling at home, it will impact their work. Although some people can compartmentalize their lives, it doesn’t change the fact that they are still just one person—not one at home and a different one at work.
“But domestic violence is a very personal issue that law enforcement and the courts will handle, so as an employer, I better stay out of it…right?”
The Occupational Safety and Health Act requires employers to maintain a safe workplace, and according to “When Domestic Violence Comes to Work,” an article on the SHRM website, employers have been cited for a lack of workplace violence safeguards. If a victim takes action to remove him/herself from the violent home, it’s likely that the one place the offender knows where to find the person is at work.
There are many things you can do to support employees and help keep them safe. Here are some of the basics:
- Provide a confidential reporting mechanism
- Provide education and resources, such as an employee assistance program or local domestic violence support agency
- Connect with professional, trained experts
- Create a compliant domestic violence program
- Consider offering paid safe leave to give victims of domestic violence time to meet with an attorney, seek a protective order, attend court hearings, attend counseling, find a new place to live, etc.
Importance of Workplace Safety
Stephanie Angelo, a survivor of abuse and founder and principal consultant of Human Resource Essential, says, “Such a taboo issue gives an employer the excuse not to address it, but sometimes the workplace is the only avenue of respite that a victim has.” (“When Domestic Violence Comes to Work”, Roy Maurer, www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/risk-management/pages/domestic-violence-workplace-nfl-ray-rice.aspx. Accessed October 4, 2018)
Work with your employment attorney to make sure you’re following federal, state, and local laws that cover this issue, but don’t let your lack of knowledge on the issue prevent you from being part of the solution to this significant societal problem.
Share Your Thoughts
What do you currently have in place to help victims of domestic assault? What else will you put in place this month to provide even more support?
You can leave your answer in a comment below.
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