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How to Address Domestic Violence with Effective HR Policies

October 24, 2019 - minute read

It should come as no surprise that domestic violence occurs on a daily basis, often unbeknownst to victims’ employers or coworkers. In fact, the Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence found that 21 percent of full-time employed adults said they were victims of domestic violence. And yet, 65 percent of companies don’t have formal training or prevention policies in place to combat this issue.

Until you formally address this issue head on, you could be unintentionally putting both your employees and your company at risk. The Department of Labor reports that victims of domestic violence collectively lose nearly 8 million days of paid work per year in the U.S. alone. That translates to a $1.8 billion loss in productivity each year for employers. If you don’t already have an effective policy in place for addressing domestic violence and supporting victims, now is the time to create one.

Recent Legislative Updates Around Domestic Violence

Movements such as #MeToo, along with countless court cases centered around sexual harassment, have helped break the silence on situations often considered too taboo to discuss in a work setting. This past August, the governor of New York passed an amendment to the New York State Human Rights Law (NYSHRL) expanding the definition of "victim of domestic violence.” Once enacted in January 2020, it will prohibit discriminatory practices against victims and require accommodations in the aftermath of a domestic violence incident- both for employees, as well as their children if they’ve sustained physical or emotional injury.

For employers of a distributed workforce, this is particularly relevant. When your operation is spread across multiple sites or states, it can be difficult to know exactly what’s going on with all of your workers and managers. Creating an effective domestic violence policy is the first major step in overcoming the distance.

How to Create an Effective Domestic Violence Policy

A recent SHRM survey revealed that 16 percent of organizations have experienced domestic violence incidents in the past five years, 19 percent had an issue in the last year, and 22 percent did not know. If you’re unsure if your policies and operational procedures around these events are effective, consider additional steps to ensure you’re proactive in assisting victims and preventing future incidents.

For instance, all domestic violence policies should address:

  • Training for managers and employees on recognizing signs of domestic violence.
  • Required actions to take by those who are aware of an incident or imminent danger, as well as consequences of non-reporting.
  • Security concerns and off-duty conduct.
  • Violations of an employment agreement or other condition of employment.
  • Accommodations for victims.

Employee Handbook CTA

It’s important to be specific when determining what is and is not considered reasonable accommodations. In New York, however, legal compliance requires employers to allow victims reasonable time off for the following specific reasons:

  • To seek medical attention for injuries resulting from domestic violence.
  • To obtain services from a domestic violence shelter, program or rape crisis center.
  • To obtain psychological counseling related to an incident of domestic violence.
  • To take actions to increase safety or distance from future incidents of domestic violence.
  • To obtain legal services, assist in the prosecution of the offense or appear in court as relating to an incident of domestic violence.

These policies not only put you ahead of the compliance game as similar laws spread to your state(s), but it also lets your employees know that you take their well-being and safety seriously. The clearer your policy, the safer your workers, legal compliance, and operational investments will be. Looking for help with your employee handbook? Check out our free Employee Handbook Template.

Domestic Violence Prevention with EPAY Systems

EPAY’s robust Human Capital Management platform is equipped to not only help ensure a safe work environment for your employees, but help you maintain the best policies and operating procedures for navigating domestic violence situations possible.

Our HR consultants are available to help you create well-rounded, compliant policies alongside our online training modules and resources. These give you multiple avenues for broadcasting domestic violence policies, educating your workforce, and showcasing available resources for victims who may might not feel comfortable seeking help on their own.

Ready to see our solution for yourself? Request a demo!

Filed Under: Compliance Human Capital Management Learning and Development