Ottawa, November 25, 2015—On any given night, approximately 3,300 women in Canada are forced out of their homes to escape domestic violence, according to the Canadian Women’s Foundation. On this International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, The Conference Board of Canada releases a report about the impact of this issue on Canada’s workplaces and how employers can support employees who are victims of abuse at home.
Traditionally considered a personal or family situation, Canadian organizations are now seeing an increasing impact of domestic violence issues on their workplaces, such as higher absenteeism rates, productivity losses and, in some cases, safety concerns for both the victim and co-workers.
“Unfortunately, domestic violence is a reality of Canadian society and the Canadian workplace,” says Louise Chenier, Manager of Workplace Health and Wellness Research at The Conference Board of Canada. “And employers can play a role in providing greater resources and supports for victims of domestic violence. In fact, most Canadian employers are proactively preparing themselves to support employees who experience domestic violence, and prevent workplace tragedies.”
- 71 per cent of Canadian employers surveyed reported experiencing a situation where it was necessary to protect a victim of domestic abuse.
- The prevalence of employers providing support to victims of domestic violence is similar across industries.
- Domestic violence impacts the workplace through productivity losses, higher absenteeism and, in some cases, can affect the safety of co-workers.
- Issues of domestic violence can also increase risk for physical and psychological violence in the workplace.
- While many workplaces have been proactive, more training and education is required.
Based on a survey of members of the Conference Board’s Leadership and Human Resources Research executive networks, the report finds that 71 per cent of employers reported experiencing a situation where it was necessary to protect a victim of domestic abuse. Given these situations, it is not surprising that 63 per cent of employers reported having implemented a domestic violence policy that is either stand-alone or a subset of a broader workplace policy.
While the prevalence of supporting victims of domestic violence is similar across industries, employees working in the finance, insurance, accommodation and food services, and retail trade were found to be the most likely to have needed to support a victim of domestic violence (82 per cent). They were followed closely by employees working in high technology, professional scientific and technical services, utilities, communications and telecommunications (80 per cent).
The report, Domestic Violence and the Role of the Employer, identifies the important role organizations can play to support their employees in this time of crisis. Concrete examples of workplace domestic violence policies, include:
- Training for managers and employees
- Follow-up support for victims
- Leave policies and guidelines
- Safety planning procedures
- Better communication of availability and access to services and resources such as employee and family assistance programs (EFAP)
The Conference Board is holding a series of workshops across Canada to help employers better support employees who experience domestic violence. For date and locations visit our website.