Guest Author

How Domestic Violence Impacts the Workplace – By Amanda Ray

download (2)Domestic violence is a whole pattern of behaviour. There are a whole lot of ways that it impacts the workplace, starting with absenteeism and lost productivity. – Laurie Fogelman

How domestic violence impacts the workplace

Stalkers and ex partners, often follow the victim to the workplace in order to harass or intimidate them.

Legal and liability issue – In many countries, employers who fail to protect their employees from violence at work can be held liable (whether it is from a colleague, stranger or ex-partner).

Performance, productivity and absentee concern, particularly if the person suffers from physically and mental health issues associated with domestic violence.

*The 2011 National Domestic Violence and the Workplace Survey found that nearly half (48%) of respondents who reported experiencing domestic and family violence said the violence had affected their ability to get to work.

The main impact of violence was on work performance – 16% of victims and survivors reported being distracted, tired or unwell and 10% needed to take time off work.

Domestic violence and abuse is becoming far too common place in today’s society and as we spend the majority of our life in the workplace, then it makes sense to have a few checklists in place to protect employees.

Policies and special leave requirements have been put into place over the last couple of years, as awareness of domestic violence and abuse is being recognised by employers. And, majority of companies now offer free employee counselling services.

All these initiatives are wonderful and I applaud companies for implementing them but can more be done?

Below are a few suggestions that I recommend companies implement –

Offer to have someone walk them to their car or to the bus or train stop. Do they live near another colleague that they could car pool with?

If possible, can the company let the employee use the company car park?

Does HR or someone else have an emergency contact phone number for the person?

Can the employees direct work number be changed in the company listing? Does the direct line or mobile number need to be on email signature blocks?

Set up a code word that the employee can use if they are in a crisis.

Changing the person’s working hours may benefit, especially, if their ex-partner knows their daily routine.

Bring in a guest speaker to talk to managers, supervisors and staff on what signs to look out for that may indicate someone is in a domestic violent relationship. What to say or not say to them.

**Training for managers and supervisors on domestic violence prevention. And, having ***Mental Health First Aid officers.

Companies can spend literally thousands of dollars a year on Corporate Leadership and Team Building courses.


So why not invest time and money on retaining an experienced and skilled employee? It is far more cost-effective than recruiting and training a new person.

And, remember domestic violence and abuse doesn’t discriminate anyone from the CEO to the Executive team, office or factory worker could be in a domestic violent relationship.


** Australia’s CEO Challenge (workplace partners against domestic violence)

*** Mental Health First Aid training courses

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