How domestic violence impacts HR and employees

by John Hilton17 Nov 2016
Domestic or family violence (also referred to as “intimate partner violence”) is a significant issue for workplaces in Australia, 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 for many reasons, Grow told HC.
It could include physical and psychological violence (actual or threatened), sexual assault, financial control, emotional abuse, damage to property or social isolation.
“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.
Indeed, estimates suggest 65% of women experiencing violence are in paid employment.
“That is almost a million women which is an unacceptable level of violence in our community,” she said.
Grow cited statistics that one woman is killed each week as a result of domestic violence and one in three women will experience domestic violence at some point in their lives. For women aged 15 to 44, domestic violence is the leading contributor to death.
Moreover, a report commissioned in 2014 by the Office for Women from Access Economics shows a total cost to the economy of $8.1bn.
“Most of this relates to pain, suffering, premature death and health costs. Lost productivity as a result of domestic violence is estimated to cost businesses approximately $484m per annum but this is anticipated to rise to $609m by 2021,” she said.
Impact on the workplace
Nearly half of all people experiencing domestic violence report the violence to be affecting their ability to get to work, 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,” she said.
“Additionally, the stress of being in a violent situation may cause mental health and wellbeing to deteriorate and as a result, performance may decline.
“This could have implications for occupational health and safety in domains such as decision-making, focus and distraction, which then can lead to safety implications.”
Domestic violence can also impact workplaces through the loss of talented workers, Grow added.
For instance, people experiencing violence often have less steady employment histories and change jobs more often.
“Between 25-50% of women who have experienced domestic violence report having lost a job, at least in part due to the violence,” said Grow.
“Some perpetrators exerting control may not let their partner work at all.
“There is also the risk that what begins as violence at home, may become safety and security implications for the workplace as well.”

Related stories:

Inside Konica Minolta’s new domestic violence policy

AVOs in the office: where do you stand?

Domestic violence leave under fire


  • by Joanne stefanovic 18/11/2016 2:15:01 PM

    This is fabulous to see such a prominent organisation taking a stance against domestic violence. Thank you

  • by Linda 19/11/2016 12:42:35 PM

    Perpetrators have also been known to come to the workplace with the purpose of enacting violence on the victim. The 2015 murder of Laila Alavi, a hairdresser, took place in a carpark under the business where she was employed. The murderer, who was her former husband, pleaded guilty to murder in Court this year.

Most Read