Gary Johns in an article titled “Social work not employer’s business” (The Australian, 16 February 2012) advocates against employers providing support for victims of domestic violence by claiming that domestic violence is not a work related issue and that “production related costs (of domestic violence) are avoidable by hiring a new worker”.
I believe Mr Johns has not availed himself of all the facts on this issue.
Safe at Home, Safe at Work? National Domestic Violence and the Workplace Survey, which had over 3600 respondents, highlights the impact of domestic violence in the workplace and clearly demonstrates that domestic violence is a workplace issue that affects safety and productivity.
Thirty percent of respondents, working people, had experienced domestic violence. Domestic violence had affected the capacity of 15% to get to work, with workers being physically restrained, keys hidden or phones smashed. For one in five workers experiencing domestic violence, their partner or ex-partner continued to abuse them by turning up at their workplace or by making abusive phone calls or emails.
Workplaces who support workers experiencing domestic violence by providing leave to attend court for a protection order, by developing safety plans to stop the abuse at work, and by being decent caring people, do make a difference to people trying to stay in their homes and in their jobs through the crisis.
I believe workers who experience domestic violence should be supported in their workplace, and I would encourage employers to do so not only because it is the right thing to do, but also to promote higher morale and productivity in the workplace.