A recent study conducted in Canada has identified that one in three workers had experienced domestic violence (DV) at some point in their life. Despite these statistics there was minimal evidence found of employers understanding and taking action to assist victims of DV.

The purpose of the study was to examine:

  1. The awareness of co-worker DV victimisation and perpetration;
  2. The warning signs of DV victimisation and perpetration recognised by workers
  3. Whether DV victims are more likely than non-victims to recognise DV and its warning signs; and
  4. The impacts of DV that workers perceive on victims’ and perpetrators’ ability to work.

Results concluded that almost half of the surveyed workers had seen warning signs, such as fear, anxiety, emotional instability, absence from work and deteriorating performance of co-workers experiencing domestic violence.

A 2011 National Domestic Violence and the Workplace Survey in Australia revealed that half of its respondents who were experiencing domestic and family violence had their ability to get to work affected. The survey found that the main impact of violence was on work performance, 16% were distracted, tired or unwell, and 10% reported needing to take time off of work.

As a result, there is an urgent need for workplaces to address the issue of how to respond to domestic violence and improve the outcomes for victims, perpetrators and workers. Evidence to date suggests that majority of workplaces do not currently provide training to employees and managers to recognise, understand and respond to cases of domestic violence. Previous research has revealed that supervisors that are aware of DV do not participate in any form of action or respond inappropriately by blaming the victim jokingly.

When domestic violence occurs in the home, workplaces can experience a great impact on victims, perpetrators and co-workers. Effects on the workplace include absenteeism, difficulty to concentrate, and significantly decreased work performance. It is therefore in the best interests of organisations and its employees to address the major issue of understanding DV by implementing policies and procedures.

To read more about the study conducted in Canada please click here.

If you would like to take the lead in addressing domestic violence in your workplace by implementing a policy, please contact the National Retail Association and speak to one of our Workplace Advisors on 1800 RETAIL (738 245) or email us.