Domestic Violence and the Workplace
Domestic violence is not something that affects people only in their homes. It follows them into other areas of their lives, including the workplace. A 2005 national telephone survey found that 21% of adults employed full time were victims of domestic violence1.
Domestic violence can show itself in many different ways in the workplace. It can make succeeding at work extremely difficult for someone being abused, and might ultimately result in them having to stop working. There are also employees who commit domestic violence while at work, at a cost to employers through the misuse of time and resources. The impact on an organization can include lost productivity; health care costs; absenteeism; and employee turn over. It can compromise the safety of victims and their co-workers, sometimes with fatal results.
There are ways employers can help. Employers can implement domestic violence and the workplace policies that include provisions such as: training for staff; help identifying the best use of attendance and leave benefits, such as sick time and personal leave; help creating workplace safety plans; and the provision of information and referrals for services, such as the local domestic violence program. Employers can also hold abusive employees accountable through these policies.
Executive Order 19
To address the impact of domestic violence on the New York State workforce, former Governor Eliot Spitzer signed Executive Order 19 in October of 2007. This Order required all New York State Agencies and designated Authorities to formulate and issue domestic violence and the workplace policies.
The NYS Domestic Violence and the Workplace Initiative
Executive Order 19 directed the NYS Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence (OPDV) to update the Model Domestic Violence and the Workplace Policy it created in 2000. OPDV updated the policy in collaboration with union representation, and distributed it with implementation guidelines to all State agencies. OPDV reviewed and approved Agency policies and provided technical assistance and training throughout the process.
Implementation and Staff Support
The policies require that all Agencies designate staff as liaisons to oversee policy implementation and support personnel for employed victims. Support might include information on how to get help from their local domestic violence program; information about the NYS Employee Assistance Program (EAP); a workplace safety plan; and/or assistance with the best use of time and attendance benefits. Policies also require that if an employee is found to have used State time to commit domestic violence, the Agency will hold that employee accountable.
All liaisons and support personnel received domestic violence training conducted by OPDV. In addition, since training for all New York State employees was strongly encouraged under Executive Order 19, several train-the-trainer sessions were conducted so that Agencies could go on to train the rest of their staff. OPDV also trained EAP representatives in preparation for this initiative. To date, approximately 885 people have been trained as part of this initiative, and training is on-going.
Under this initiative, Agencies will report any domestic violence incidents that take place at their Agency; the number of employees who report being a victim of domestic violence; the number of referrals to domestic violence programs given; and the number of employees who request domestic violence information for themselves or someone else. All data will be aggregate and will not contain any identifying information. The information will be compiled by OPDV in an annual report to the Governor.
Learn more at the OPDV website.