Guardian: Domestic violence is a workplace issue

Guardian, spring 2016

We’ve known for a long time about the devastating impact of domestic violence on women and families. But until recently, researchers had not looked into its effects on the workplace.

The results of the first Canadian survey on the issue, conducted in 2014 by the University of Western Ontario with the Canadian Labour Congress, are sobering.

One-third of workers surveyed had experienced violence from an intimate partner. Of those, more than half reported that at least one type of abusive act occurred at, or near, the workplace.

And a staggering 81.9 per cent said the violence affected their work.

The Ontario government now explicitly recognizes the risk to workplace safety posed by domestic violence in its occupational health and safety legislation. And it requires employers to take every reasonable precaution to protect workers.

In Manitoba, affected workers will soon be able to take leave from their work to seek medical attention or counselling, legal or law enforcement assistance, or to relocate. It’s the first law of its kind in Canada.

Domestic violence isn’t explicitly recognized in B.C.’s occupational health and safety legislation, but employers have a legal obligation to protect workers when violence spills into the workplace.

When a threat of violence emerges, employers must conduct a risk assessment, take steps to eliminate or minimize the risk, and inform at-risk workers about the hazard and how to protect themselves.

Find out more at:

Canadian Labour Congress