Health Advocate Blog

Addressing Domestic Violence in the Workplace

Domestic violence, also known as relationship violence and intimate partner violence, is not just an issue that takes place in the privacy of the home. Domestic violence follows the victim to their workplace, and its effects can be devastating to the victim, their coworkers and their company’s bottom line.

Whether it’s a physical injury, a threatening phone call, stalking in the parking lot, missed work due to abuse at home, stress or distraction, the result of domestic violence is high absenteeism and turnover, lost wages, a heightened risk of violence to coworkers, and lost productivity. Domestic violence costs businesses more than $729 million a year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It jumps to more than $4 billion with the inclusion of medical and mental healthcare costs. Workplace incidences that lead to litigation can drive costs up even more, according to the CDC.

Health Advocate provides the following white paper, Domestic Violence: The Impact on the Workplace as a resource to help executives, managers and human resources professionals understand the ways domestic violence affects everyone, from the victim to the people they live and work with. To view the white paper, visit: http://www.healthadvocate.com/_mobile/downloads/communications-pdfs/b2b/domestic_violence_white_paper.pdf

The following are just a few of the strategies employers can put in place to help reduce and prevent the emotional and economic toll domestic violence has on their workers and their organization.

  • Form a domestic violence team. Include employees, managers, supervisors, HR, public relations, security personnel, the legal department, Employee Assistance Program (EAP) professionals, and, if applicable, a union representative.
  • Create a specific threat response team. Specialized EAP professionals can help analyze the potential of a threat to the company and develop protocols to respond to threats.
  • Enlist community resources. Partner with law enforcement, advocacy organizations, shelters or crisis centers that can help you develop policies and communications.
  • Provide annual training for all employees. The EAP or local crisis center can help employees identify signs of abuse, review workplace policies and recommend resources.
  • Install safety measures. Arrange for the victim to have priority parking near the building and have escorts to their car. Screen calls, and transfer harassing calls to security. Also, have the employee’s name removed from automated phone directories. Limit information about employees disclosed by phone. If a restraining order is in place, get a photo of the abuser to keep in the front desk or reception area.

Where to Turn When You Need Support

If you are currently experiencing or have experienced abuse in an intimate relationship, many types of support are available.

  • Always call your local police department if you are in imminent danger.
  • Call a local or national domestic violence hotline for help creating a safety plan, finding a shelter, and more. You can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1.800.799.7233, or visit them online to chat with an advocate.
  • If available, call your Employee Assistance Program (EAP), which provides free, confidential services to both victims and survivors of domestic abuse.  EAP counselors are committed to helping employees and their household members feel safe in their homes, communities and workplaces.  If you are a Health Advocate member with access to our EAP+Work/Life services, call us today to speak to a licensed professional counselor.