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Hitting back at domestic violence

An employee is visited at work by their partner and is threatened with violence. What should you do as a manager?
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Hitting back at domestic violence

Hitting back at domestic violence

27 July 2017

An employee is visited at work by their partner and is threatened with violence. What should you do as a manager?

Domestic violence has been in the headlines again this month, following the Fair Work Commission’s recent decision to reject the ACTU’s claim for 10 days’ paid family and domestic violence leave entitlements to be introduced into all modern awards.
While the ruling means that employers are under no obligation to offer paid leave, the question of how you should respond if you believe an employee is the victim of domestic violence is a valid one.
In about 20% of cases, the violence directly affects the workplace, for example via threatening phone calls or emails, or personal visits to the workplace by the abuser. 

According to Mike Toten, writing for WorkplaceInfo, employers have two basic obligations in relation to domestic violence:

  • to keep people safe at work
  • to provide support for employees who are victims

Attending work may provide an escape not only from violence, but also provides support for the victim from both work colleagues and management. This support may be both emotional and practical.

At the very least, having a policy for dealing with domestic violence situations is recommended. This policy must be well-known to employees and backed up by readily accessible contact people in the organisation. Team leaders rather than senior managers tend to be the most effective contact people.

A domestic violence policy could cover each of the following issues:

  • paid or unpaid leave available to victims, as discussed above. This enables the victim to deal with the situation, for example time off to visit police or courts to gain necessary orders, arrange alternative accommodation, etc.
  • attention to security issues at the workplace, eg building entry and parking
  • access to mobile communication devices, as access to these is often removed or restricted by abusers
  • check what  relevant services your Employee Assistance Program (EAP) can provide
  • access to relevant information and support services for victims, eg the ability to change bank accounts discreetly.
  • inclusion of men, gay/lesbian/transgender employees and other employees who are victims of violence.
  • inclusion of sexual assault as well as domestic violence.

What can you do as an employer? Ask a professional workplace relations expert advice for free by calling our Workplace Assured Advice Line on 1300 496 955. 

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