Every workplace can make a difference to the safety and wellbeing of people experiencing domestic violence.
Domestic or family violence is a significant issue for workplaces, according to Michele Grow, CEO of Davidson Trahaire Corpsych.
It involves an abuse of power by a partner, ex-partner or family member, and keeps talented people – mainly women – out of the workforce, said Grow.
It could include physical and psychological violence (actual or threatened), sexual assault, financial control, emotional abuse, damage to property or social isolation.
Indeed, when an employee is living with domestic and family violence, there are often very real costs and negative impacts that flow to the workplace.
“Some of these behaviours at times will come into the workplace, meaning the employer then needs to take action and provide the appropriate support and intervention to ensure the ongoing safety of the workplace,” said Grow.
“Physical injuries can mean more sick days and poor attendance. In addition, those affected may take many unplanned days off with no apparent reason.”
Every workplace can make a difference to the safety and wellbeing of people experiencing domestic violence. Davidson Trahaire Corpsych offers the following tips:
- Promote gender equality and provide a supportive and informed workplace. This will help enable employees to feel safe to disclose their situation to their employer.
- Those in leadership and governance roles must recognise that domestic violence is a workplace issue and be prepared to put in place appropriate responses including clear policies and procedures that demonstrate a commitment to support impacted employees.
- Support reasonable requests such as flexible work arrangements, relocation, changes to contact details and access to leave, including special domestic violence leave if appropriate.
- Education and awareness can be improved through a range of activities such as training, information sessions, newsletter articles, inclusion in OHS and team briefings, posters, and supporting special days such as White Ribbon Day.
- Facilitate referrals to specialist domestic and family violence support services.
· A combination of lack of awareness of the issue and the signs, lack of confidence to address the issue, and lack of knowledge of the support available, means that people often do not get the support they may require.
- Policies and practices may not support the required responses.
- Collaboration and consultation is critical. Don’t try to immediately remove the person from the workplace, or escalate the issue to emergency services or crisis support networks without the victim’s consent and approval. This can potentially exacerbate the issue.
- Doing nothing is not an option. Instead, provide a safe, confidential space; share non-judgmental observations; ask if they are OK; provide reassurance about their job; ask what the organisation can do to support them are all steps that can be very helpful.