Domestic Violence and the Workplace

November 22nd Is White Ribbon Day. White Ribbon is part of a global social movement of men and boys working towards ending men’s violence against women.

In recognition of White Ribbon Day, each Friday until November 22nd, Community Management Solutions will be publishing an article providing information about the implications that family and domestic violence can have for workplaces and your responsibilities as an employer.

The articles will focus on:

  • This article: Domestic violence as an issue for workplaces and employers
  • Friday, 15th November: Advice from Queensland Police of how employers can respond when domestic violence enters the workplace
  • Friday, 22nd November: Federal and State legislation regarding domestic violence leave

Domestic violence does not stay home

According to The Fair Work Ombudsman, violence continues in the workplace for 1 in 5 Australian employees who are experiencing family and domestic violence¹. This can take the form of the perpetrator of the violence:

  • Visiting the workplace
  • Stopping the employee from keeping a job
  • Breaking, hiding or damaging belongings
  • Using technology to threaten, isolate, abuse, track or stalk the victim.
  • Making abusive phone calls or sending abusive e-mails

In 2004, the Australian Federal Government reported that family and domestic violence costs employers $175 million each year² due to:

  • Increased risks of workplace violence
  • Increased illness or absenteeism
  • Possible legal liabilities
  • Increased employee turnover
  • Reduced productivity.

Under the Fair Work Act, employees dealing with the impact of family and domestic violence can take unpaid family and domestic violence leave, request flexible working arrangements, and in particular circumstances take paid or unpaid personal/carer’s leave.

Callout:

Signs that an employee may be experiencing family and domestic violence:

  • excessive absence or lateness (especially on Mondays)
  • a sudden or sustained drop in productivity
  • frequent unexplained bruises or injuries
  • wearing concealing clothing, even in warm weather
  • frequent or unusual work breaks, or unusual start and finish times
  • displaying anxiety
  • appearing distracted, depressed or overly jumpy
  • lack of concentration or difficulty making decisions
  • inability to take work-related trips
  • receiving excessive personal calls, texts or visits.

Reference

Further reading:

The Fair Work Ombudsman has produced, Employer Guide to Family and Domestic Violence which can be accessed here. This 17 page document explains the points of this article in more depth and also provides guidance on how employers might start a conversation with an employee about family and domestic violence.

Information about flexible working arrangements can be accessed here.

¹ Fair Work Ombudsman, Employer Guide to Family and Domestic Violence, p. 11 (accessed from www.fairwork.gov.au/leave/family-and-domestic-violence-leave/employer-guide-to-family-and-domestic-violence, 10/09/19)

² Cited in Employer Guide to Family and Domestic Violence, p. 6 (accessed from www.fairwork.gov.au/leave/family-and-domestic-violence-leave/employer-guide-to-family-and-domestic-violence, 10/09/19)

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