The responsibility of employers to respond effectively to victims and perpetrators of domestic violence in their employ extends to employers across all systems. Public agencies, with the active involvement of employee unions and other employee organizations, should ensure that existing employee assistance programs, work/family and health benefits, security and supervisory policies, and/or workplace violence policies apply to and are responsive to the needs of victims of domestic violence, and should encourage all agencies with which they contract to do the same. Because employers' responses must be consistent with existing collective bargaining agreements, employers should also encourage labor unions to develop union policy and to adopt contract language that addresses domestic violence.
Research suggests that as many as 74% of working battered women are harassed by their abusive partners on the job; and, of them, each year 45% miss at least 18 days of work; 56% are late for work on at least 60 days; and 28% leave early on at least 60 days. (20) Another study found that 20% of working battered women lose their jobs altogether. (21) Battered women consistently identify the lack of financial resources as a primary obstacle to separating from their abusive partners. For working women, battering can further weaken their financial security by compromising their ability to perform and keep their jobs.
In addition, on-the-job harassment of employees by abusive partners may also threaten the safety of co-workers at the job site. Protecting the health and safety of all employees is in the interest of both employer and employee, reducing unnecessary turnover and abuse-related costs to the victim and co-workers, and enhancing continued employee well-being and productivity. Having well-defined responses to domestic violence in the workplace will also better protect employers from potential liability. Whether employers are large or small, have an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) or not, security staff or not, the policy recommendations that follow should provide useful guidance.
In addition to incorporating the recommendations outlined in the Guiding Principles into their responses to domestic violence, employers should also integrate the following recommendations specific to employers. The following policy recommendations do not necessarily require the development of