When we began offering workplace education about domestic violence through the Make It Our Business (MIOB) training program, one of early questions we were asked was, “How is domestic violence a problem for employers?” High profile cases like that of Ray Rice and the NFL, and Jian Ghomeshi and the CBC, should make the reasons crystal clear. They are another illustration of how violence that happens in someone’s personal life can have a huge impact on the workplace. The NFL and CBC came under intense fire for the way that they handled the situations.
Last week Alberta became the second province in Canada to pass legislation providing workers with domestic violence leave. In this case, they are entitled to up to 10 days of unpaid domestic violence leave. Workers are eligible if they or a dependent child or protected adult living with them is experiencing domestic violence.
For a number of years I have been travelling to workplaces in my community to talk about intimate partner violence and how to recognize and respond to signs that a coworker might be experiencing abuse. After years of these presentations, what I remember the most, are the faces filled with regret that approach me afterwards. They tell me a story I have heard many times before; they once had a friend, coworker, neighbour, or family member who they were worried about. This person seemed to change over time and become more distant, irritable, anxious, and disconnected from the world around them. They didn’t know how to help the person they cared about and realize now they were trapped in an abusive relationship.
Domestic violence doesn’t just stay inside the walls of the home or the personal relationship. When a worker experiences abuse in a relationship, this abuse almost always spills over into her workplace, in one form or another. In fact, domestic violence is the fastest growing type of workplace violence in Canada. The consequences of domestic violence can extend into the workplace in various forms, including harassing phone calls or emails, physical visits, stalking, threats, or physical violence. Statistics Canada shows that almost 20 percent of all incidents of violent victimization, occurred while the survivor was at work (2004). This is why it is so important for every workplace to have domestic violence policies and safety plans in place.
As World Breastfeeding Week rolls around, it’s a good opportunity to talk about why it’s so important for businesses and workplaces to support nursing moms, along with easy ways to do so.
Becoming a mother is no easy feat. There are long days, sleepless nights, and exhausting weeks. In Canada, most working women who are employed with a business are entitled to one year of maternity leave. This is an amazing and much-needed opportunity to be home with a new baby.
The Province of Ontario is seeking input on women’s economic empowerment with an online survey that is open until August 15th. The Ministry of the Status of Women will be drafting Ontario’s first strategy in the coming months. Any discussion on improving women’s economic opportunities should make a clear link to the impacts of domestic violence on women’s careers and economic status. Women with a history of domestic violence are more likely to work in low paying, casual and precarious jobs, they have interrupted work histories and change jobs more often.
The Australian Fair Work Commission (FWC) announced a ground-breaking decision on July 3rd to establish Australia as the first country in the world to enshrine family and domestic violence leave as a national right. With the ruling, Australian workers will have access to 10 days of unpaid leave to deal with issues that may include counselling, fleeing from violence, attending court or finding safe housing. This is an important development that takes critical steps to protect vulnerable workers and their jobs.
Economic insecurity is one of the greatest factors inhibiting victims of domestic violence from escaping violent situations at home. To address that problem unions and employers have developed paid domestic violence leave provisions which allow victims to attend legal proceedings, medical appointments, or other events or activities related to the violence they have experienced, without risk of lost income or employment.
Canada 150 represents more than just 150 years of being a country. It also represents the many strides we have taken as people. This video is a timeline of some of the accomplishments Canadian women have achieved.