The Canadian Labour Congress Addresses Domestic Violence in the Workplace at Individual and Systemic levels
The Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) collaborated with the Centre for Research & Education on Violence against Women & Children to conduct the first Canadian national survey on Domestic Violence and the Workplace. The findings from that survey were released in November 2014 and the CLC has identified three areas of follow-up:
- Tools to support collective bargaining, including paid leave and women’s advocates
- Member education/ awareness, including training for representatives, negotiators, leaders and advocates
- Legislation, especially improved employment standards, Health and Safety and Human Rights legislation
Courses for the education initiative are being modelled on Make It Our Business training and resources. The Centre for Research & Education on Violence against Women & Children is working with the Women’s and Human Rights Department to develop these courses:
- A 1-hour Base-level Presentation Aimed at Workers - the presentation covers information like how to recognize warning signs of domestic violence and what to do if you believe a co-worker is experiencing or committing domestic violence. The aim is to build awareness of DV and its impact on the workplace, creating a safer atmosphere for people to seek support.
- Training for Union Representatives - at least two days long, this workshop model is meant to be delivered either on its own or integrated into other courses. It’s designed to help those who work directly with members – shop stewards, health and safety representatives, women’s advocates and other “first responders” -- recognize and respond to incidents of domestic violence and includes role playing scenarios, video content and training.
- Facilitator training - this intensive training with a small, hand-picked group will work nationally or regionally to deliver the training for Union Representatives or other educational programs. Trainers will be highly skilled and knowledgeable on women’s issues or workplace violence.
- 1-Day or Online Training - geared toward leaders and negotiators on why domestic violence is a union issue, legal obligations, how to address it, and examples, this informative training is a great beginner option.
The series will help increase union capacity to build awareness about domestic violence and address DV@Work at individual, workplace and systemic levels. It will train workshop facilitators and empower first responders who work with union members and other workers who may be experiencing domestic violence. It also equips union representatives and leaders with information and tools to recognize and respond to DV@Work, and refer workers to sources of support at work and in the community.
The outcome will be a cross-country response to DV@Work. By working in collaboration with Union “champions” hundreds of union members will become activists and educators – working to address DV@ work at individual and systemic levels.
Tools for elected leaders and negotiators; first responders (including staff, stewards, women’s advocates, Health and Safety representatives and others likely to be representing members) and rank and file members can be found on the online portal, housed on the CLC’s website.
The Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) is a partner in the international Domestic Violence at Work Network (DV@WorkNet), a group of researchers, domestic violence, experts, social and labour organizations, and employers. Leaders are proud of this work and want the collective efforts to make a real difference in the lives of CLC members and to help build workplace safety.
Paid Leave for Survivors of Domestic Violence
Earlier this year, MPP Peggy Sattler introduced Bill 26 - Domestic and Sexual Violence Workplace Leave, Accommodation and Training Act. This crucial bill will provide survivors of domestic violence with up to 10 days of paid leave related to or arising from violence.
Manitoba was the first province to pass legislation granting paid leave to survivors of domestic violence in March 2016. A similar bill passed first reading in British Columbia in March 2017 and also in March 2017, Saskatchewan introduced Bill 604 - An Act to Provide Critical Supports for Victims of Domestic Violence.
Medical appointments, counselling, meetings with police or lawyers, or finding a new place to live. These are all items that many victims need to deal with. Having the ability to deal with these without the added stress of work can help tremendously. The bill will also provide additional unpaid leave if necessary as well as workplace accommodations, such as changes to work location or hours of work.
Domestic violence is not just a private issue, but one that extends beyond the home and into the workplace. Often this comes in the form of harassment, phone calls or visits, but can escalate quickly into more dangerous situations. We know that domestic violence often enters the workplace and it’s imperative we work hard to protect and support those facing abuse at the hands of a partner or family member.
Employment is the key pathway to either enable a woman to leave a violent relationship, or to prevent her from leaving one. Having a secure and supportive job can make all the difference, allowing a women to leave the relationship and rebuild her life.
Canadian employers are already paying almost $80 million each year as a result of domestic violence, and over $18 million each year due to sexual violence. What Bill 26 will do is shift these costs to helping employees recover from the violence so that they can keep their jobs and return as productive employees. It will help women get the support they need to leave the abusive relationship and heal from the trauma, without the added worry or stress of losing their jobs.
The Government of Ontario has promised to look at the provision of paid leave for domestic and sexual violence in their Changing Workplaces Review. Whether through Peggy Sattler’s Bill 26 or changes to the Employment Standards Act, we hope Ontario will soon be able to assure survivors of domestic violence access to paid leave if they need it.
LEADERSHIP: London Coordinating Committee to End Violence Against Women (LCCEWA) tackles domestic violence in the workplace
The LCCEWA is a leader in innovation and addressing tough social issues in London Ontario. This coming year, LCCEWA has created a project to engage the member agencies in taking the challenge to ensure all employees are prepared to recognize and respond to domestic violence in their workplace. LCCEWA membership includes over thirty organizations from different sectors. Co-chair Shelley Yeo reports that it’s a simple formula. “The goal is to ‘be the change’ we want in the London area”.
A Whole Company Approach
A 2014 Canadian study showed that one third of workers experience, or have experienced domestic violence. Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act requires employers to “take every reasonable precaution” to protect workers. The project partners LCCEWA with the Centre for Research & Education on Violence against Women & Children to deliver Make It Our Business (MIOB) training. MIOB has developed a systematic ‘whole company’ approach that allows organizations of all sizes to build skill, knowledge and confidence to respond safely and effectively to warning signs of domestic violence at work.
How Can My Organization become a MIOB Workplace Champion?
- Set Goals - Complete four engagement activities:
- Announce your commitment as a leader to become a MIOB workplace champion (template available)
- Post links to Make It Our Business and Neighbours, Friends and Families on your intranet, website
- Develop a training plan– online and in-person options
- Review your policy – train on it
To register for the LCCEWA sponsored Make It Our Business training, click here.