On September 7th 2011, Maine Governor Paul LePage signed an executive order mandating that all state agencies develop a “Domestic Violence in the Workplace” policy.
And under a new project, “Domestic Violence Abusers in the Workplace,” the state is providing a free toolkit to Maine businesses to help discourage acts of domestic violence in the workplace. The toolkit includes a domestic violence facts sheet, a sample policy, and a video to help businesses recognize and respond to domestic violence abusers in the workplace.
In a press release, Governor LePage urged all businesses in his state to address the problems of domestic violence. As he said, “It affects productivity, employee well-being, safety and security, health care and cost, and most of all, people lose their lives.”
This is a welcomed proactive approach to domestic violence nationwide. Just this past August in Peoria, IL, a man took a domestic dispute to his wife’s office. He entered the business and stabbed his wife and one of his wife’s colleagues. His wife survived the attack; his wife’s colleague did not.
Sadly, this is one of many incidents that highlight the importance of workplace domestic violence policies. But according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 70% of businesses do not have such a policy in place.
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These numbers from a Family Violence Prevention Fund study and the Centers for Disease Control show just how widespread domestic violence has become in our workplaces. According to employee statistics on domestic violence:
- 74% were harassed by their partners while they were at work.
- 56% arrived one hour late to work five times per month.
- 54% missed at least three full days of work each month.
- 20% of those murdered by their partners were murdered at their workplace.
- Productivity losses are over $700 million annually.
- 7.9 million paid work days are lost each year – the equivalent of 32,000 full-time jobs.
- American businesses incur $4.1 billion in health care related services for victims.
These numbers indicate that domestic violence is a far reaching problem that affects all of us, both in the workplace and out.
Creating a policy is a great first step towards helping combat violence in the workplace. A proactive approach also includes resources for those suffering abuse and training for all employees, giving them the skills to respond appropriately to any potentially violent situation. Being able to intervene early in a crisis situation can often lead to a positive outcome.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and it is a good time to not only be reminded of the resources available to help those suffering from abuse, but also for organizations to review policies and procedures on workplace violence and domestic violence to ensure all employees are safe. We are all vulnerable when we do not address domestic violence.