Monday, 21 November 2016

Safe at Work, Safe at Home: Domestic violence policies and your business

Domestic violence is an issue that extends beyond the home. In 2009, the cost to the Australian economy was around $13.6 billion and it has continued to climb since then. Domestic violence impacts on workplaces.

While some employees facing domestic violence view work as an oasis to enable them to escape the abuse, for other employees they may develop a history of absenteeism or suffer a marked drop in work productivity. Without appropriate understanding and support from the employer, these issues can impact on employment security and prospects, which often makes the problems faced by the employee even worse.

Supporting Employees suffering Domestic Violence

It can be difficult for a business to address issues that have arisen primarily in an employee’s home, but there are measures that can be put in place to help employees who have suffered or are suffering from domestic violence or abuse.

Domestic Leave Policy

An effective domestic violence policy includes:

  • confidentiality of employee details
  • workplace safety planning
  • referral processes to domestic violence support services
  • appropriate training to key personnel
  • consideration of flexible work arrangements

Paid Leave

Many businesses are permitting employees to utilise paid personal leave for purposes that relate to domestic violence that may not strictly come under sick or carers leave provisions. Some Australian businesses have also begun to incorporate additional dedicated paid leave for victims of domestic violence, to mitigate the damage caused by forced absences from work.

Procedures and Training

It is important to develop procedures for dealing with and assisting employees. If appropriate training is provided to the right staff and an awareness is built throughout the workplace, victims of domestic violence will be able to know that their workplace is safe and productivity may improve as a result.

Domestic violence status is not currently an attribute that is protected against adverse action by Australian law, however such workplace protections are beginning to develop in US jurisdictions and elsewhere. Australian businesses should begin now to protect vulnerable members of the workforce.

HR Legal can help

HR Legal works with employers to develop domestic violence policies and to run educational training for workforces to promote understanding and prevent legal issues before they can arise. If you require assistance in relation to these areas, please contact us.


This article was produced by HR Legal. It is intended to provide general information only in summary format on legal issues. It does not constitute legal advice, and should not be relied on as such.

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