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HR increasingly trained in domestic violence management

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HC Online | 18 Nov 2015, 08:40 AM Agree 0
New WGEA research has shown that employers are increasingly training HR to handle domestic violence victims – but how much responsibility should they take? HC spoke to White Ribbon to find out.
  • Bernie Althofer | 18 Nov 2015, 01:07 PM Agree 0
    Organisations may have implemented various support programs e.g. EAP/EAS and in some cases, additional support personnel may be present in the form of Peer Support Officers and/or Harassment Referral Officers. In some cases, the roles assigned to these personnel may include providing advice, guidance and support to aggrieved persons, alleged perpetrators and managers/supervisors.

    Organisations need to consider who is most likely to be the first point of call for any employee (regardless of their position in the organisation) and whether or not the person providing the advice etc has sufficient skills etc to provide appropriate advice etc. It might be that the support person does not have appropriate skills and adds to the angst of the person seeking advice. In some cases, there might be a blurring of the roles, and as the aggrieved or other person provides more information, the support person has to switch 'hats' continually.

    Experience suggests that some individuals will have taken advice or been provided with support and guidance for some considerable time before they reach HR. Suffice to say that attitudes towards domestic violence, and other counterproductive workplace behaviours can have a significant impact on the prevention, detection, reporting and resolution of such behaviours.

    It appears that the impact of domestic violence and other such behaviours has a flow on impact not only in a household but also the workplace. Issues such as lost time due to court appearances, absenteeism due to injury, presenteeism because a person still has to work but is really not in a good place mentally or physically, concerns about ongoing threats and potential for the escalation of previous incidents, downtime to seek counselling and support, and the responses of colleagues and co-workers are all issues that need to be managed. The question is "Should HR be the only ones trained in domestic violence management?"

    HR might be the delegated 'owners' of the organisational policies. However, line managers and supervisors and workers play a significant role in addressing the overall health and safety of those in the workplace. Given the potential for violence to be committed in a workplace (either physical or psychological), risk assessments should include domestic violence. Managers and workers need to be able to provide an appropriate and timely response to physical and pscyhological threats or acts caused through domestic violence.

    In the past there have been comments suggesting that managers should not take a role in responding to domestic violence. Having seen the impact of domestic violence in a fomer career, there is a flow on to workplaces. Unfortunately, in the past, there may have been a lack of knowledge or even willingness to understand and manage a person. As a result, actions taken against that person for 'poor performance' may have only resulted in increased negative feelings. One only has to 'map' the connections of who is involved to understand the magnitude of the problem, and then to understand why workplaces should be playing and increased role in supporting those involved in domestic violence.
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