Domestic violence doesn’t just happen at home. It also happens at work.
More than half the time, domestic violence spills into the workplace, says a study described in the June/July issue of Canadian Occupational Safety Magazine.
In 2012, Ontario researchers surveyed 8,429 people who experienced domestic abuse. They found that “at least one type of abuse act occurred at or near their workplace” more than half (53.5 percent) of the time.
How does it enter the workplace?
It happens when a worker is harassed, stalked, threatened, or harmed at work. It is “characterized by abusive, coercive, forceful or threatening acts or words by one member of a family, household, or intimate relation against another,” reads the WorkSafeBC information sheet Domestic Violence in the Workplace.
“When this happens, the safety of a workplace can be compromised. This can endanger co-workers and clients, putting an entire workplace at risk,” says Susan Dixon, knowledge transfer manager with Research Services at WorkSafeBC.
Susan co-managed the team that put together WorkSafeBC’s domestic violence toolkit that also includes the info sheet Why employers should care.
By actively taking steps to prevent and address domestic violence in the workplace, employers can foster a safer, more supportive environment. If a violent incident happens in the workplace, the employer has a duty to investigate, in accordance with Workers Compensation Act and the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation.
“Employers can create a workplace atmosphere that encourages those experiencing domestic violence to ask for help,” Susan says. “Research shows that workplaces can and do make a difference in contributing to the safety and well-being of those experiencing domestic violence.”