Domestic Violence Impacts the Workplace

Every 15 seconds an act of domestic violence occurs (Texas). Yet there are still businesses that feel this issue is not any of their concern. However, domestic violence not only affects the victim; it also affects the victim’s co-workers and the business itself. Since domestic violence can affect many different aspects of a victim’s life, the employer needs to make sure they make these issues their business; especially since these issues have an affect on them. Therefore, it is important that all businesses set policies in regards to domestic violence and provide training to employees, supervisors, and managers in how to handle these delicate issues in order to ensure the safety of all their employees.

Domestic violence not only affects a victim’s home life; it often affects their work life as well. Too often this abuse follows the victim to the workplace. Approximately 13,000 acts of domestic violence occur at the workplace each year (Saul, 2004). The batterer may come to the victim’s workplace and physically or verbally assault them. At times some of these incidents may even result in injury or death. The victim may also receive threatening emails, faxes, and telephone calls while they are working; which in turn affects their mental state of mind causing confusion and less awareness of their job duties.

Regardless whether or not the victim is assaulted at home or on work premises the affects of the abuse will ultimately affect their work life. Many victims find that their work performance diminishes and that they are absent from work or tardy more often. Some battered victims abandon their job altogether in fear of being stalked. Furthermore, many victims are ashamed to inform their employer of the abuse and at times they may risk losing their jobs because of their decreased productivity and absentee ism. This weakens the victim’s financial security making them more vulnerable to accept the abuse.

Unfortunately domestic violence issues also can have an impact on the victim’s co-workers. These employees often have to work harder to pick up the pieces that the victim is not completing. If the employees are unaware of the situation this could cause animosity and the co-worker may feel more stressed. In addition, employees who witness an act of domestic abuse at the workplace are more likely to be stressed and their morale may be low (Saul, 2004). All these affects could cause the victim’s co-workers job performance to decrease which could in turn affect the security of their job as well.

Employees are also in the position of being injured or even killed by the victim’s batterer. In a study of 155 cases, Jonny Lee who is the director of Peace at Work, stated that 31% of the people that were injured or killed in workplace attacks due to domestic violence issues were not actually the victim their self; but a bystander, co-worker, or a supervisor (Gurchiek, 2005). These types of incidents lower an employee’s morale even more and they often worry about their own safety in the workplace.

Businesses also feel the impact of domestic violence on their bottom line. When the victim’s work performance diminishes and they are absent more often or tardy the business has to absorb these costs. Research has shown that domestic violence costs businesses an estimated $728.8 million in productivity and approximately $7.9 million in paid work days per year (Gurchiek, 2005). Furthermore, businesses are also impacted by the cost of medical expenses. According to the Work & Family Connection, businesses will pay in between $3 to $5 million a year on medical expenses that arise because of domestic violence (Karpeles, 2004).

In addition, businesses face liability risks that relate to domestic violence (HR Focus, 2005). It is the employer’s responsibility to ensure the safety and well-being of all employees on the job; failing to do so could cost the company a tremendous amount of money and possibly their reputation as well. Employers should also be aware of their hiring and firing processes. It is possible that they could be held liable when issues arise from domestic violence due to wrongful termination or negligent hiring processes. Furthermore, businesses should learn the federal and state laws that have been set to help protect some of the rights of domestic violence victims. This will help the business in choosing to do the right thing; therefore, helping them to avoid any liability risks.

Businesses should set policies in regards to domestic violence in order to protect their business and employees. Many states in the USA have already taken a step forward on these issues and have put laws and regulations in place (Shreve, 2004). This tells us that these issues are very important and that all businesses should be taking this matter seriously. By setting policies regarding domestic violence a business will be able to act accordingly and ensure the safety of its employees as well as their bottom line.

Most importantly, it is in the best interest of the business to address these issues and set policies in regards to domestic violence as part of their safety program (Saul, 2004). The easiest way for a business to do this is to establish a safety policy that covers all forms of violence and abuse. Training also should be provided to employees, supervisors, and managers so that they can learn how to see the characteristics of abuse and how they should act in different domestic situations that could occur. In addition, a business should conduct security assessments as part of their policy; so that they can cover any security issues that they may have. When businesses set up programs in their workplace regarding this delicate issue, everyone in the workplace benefits from these policies regardless if they are the victim or not.

By setting policies regarding domestic violence in a business safety program; the business will help to ensure that they are protecting the victim, co-workers, and the business as well. These policies can help the employees and the business to act accordingly and to give the employees a sense of security. Remember, domestic violence does not always stay at home with the victim; it often follows them to work. Therefore, being prepared for these issues will help the business to form a better working environment for the employees which in turn will help them to earn more profits.

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