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Domestic violence at work

Friday December 05, 2014 Written by 
Canadian employers lose $77.9 million each year to the direct and indirect impacts of domestic violence.

A ground-breaking study conducted by the Faculty of Education's Centre for Research and Education on Violence Against Women and Children (CREVAWC) at Queen's University and the Canadian Labour Congress found that domestic violence is widespread and doesn't stay at home. This was the first nationwide study on the impacts of domestic violence on Canadian workplaces. Outreach was largely conducted through unions, with approximately 80 per cent of respondents being union members.

One-third of participants indicated they had experienced domestic violence. Of those, 82 per cent said the violence negatively affected their work performance. Almost 40 per cent said it kept them from getting to work, and for almost 10 per cent said it meant losing their job.

For more than half of these respondents, the violence continued at or near their workplace in the form of harassing emails, calls and texts, stalking or physical violence.

"While the survey results are startling, employers need to understand they can and must take action," said Julie White, women's department director with Unifor. "There are many things that can make a big difference, including supports and services for workers facing violence."

White pointed to Unifor's Women's Advocate program as a concrete example of how unions can take action to support their members who are victims of domestic violence. A Women's Advocate is a specially trained workplace representative who assists women with issues such as workplace harassment, domestic violence and abuse.

"From helping women leave abusive relationships to working with employers to ensure safe workplaces for workers experiencing domestic abuse, these workplace representatives are instrumental in creating healthier workplaces and safer communities," said White. "We currently have 326 women's advocates in workplaces across the country. I'd like to one day see there be a women's advocate in every workplace."

More information about the survey results can be found at domesticviolenceatwork.ca.

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