Kelowna Now: Domestic Violence and Its Effect on the Workplace

Original Artcile by: Kelowna Now | 27 November 2014

A ground breaking survey that looks at workers in Canada and domestic violence shows that the problem does not remain at home.

The study was conducted by Unifor and Western University’s Faculty of Education with the results published on Thursday.

"While the survey results are startling, employers need to understand they can and must take action," said Unifor Women's Department Director Julie White, who participated on the steering committee for the survey. "We've seen a lot of discussion around violence against women in the Canadian media recently, and while that's a start, we need to start having conversations about solutions as well. There are many things that can make a big difference, including supports and services for workers facing violence."

The data gathered from 8,429 workers across the country is the first ever 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. A third of participants indicated they had experienced domestic violence and 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 almost 10 per cent said it resulted in a loss of a job. For more than half, that violence continued at or near their workplace in the form of harassing emails, calls and texts, stalking or physical violence.

"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."

Being a perpetrator of domestic violence also significantly impacts a worker and their workplace. A recent study found that 53 per cent of offenders felt their job performance was negatively impacted, 75 per cent had a hard time concentrating on their work, and 19 per cent reported causing or nearly causing workplace accidents due to their violent relationship. Their behaviours lead to a loss of paid and unpaid work time, a decrease in productivity, and safety hazards for their co-workers.