Family and domestic violence is placing increased pressure on the community and continues to be a wide-reaching issue that impacts on business and employers have an obligation to act when they know something’s amiss.
Considering the Fair Work Commission’s ruling earlier in the year rejecting a union claim for 10 days of paid family and domestic violence (FDV) leave, employer responses to this societal scourge are well and truly in the spotlight.
The economic burden on the community caused by violence against women and their children is enormous—estimated at over $21 billion annually—and the business community is impacted both directly and indirectly.
Research demonstrates that preventing this violence is a matter of national urgency and can only be achieved if all aspects of the community work together.
International evidence shows key aspects of public and private life impact on rates of FDV, making it clear what is required from the community to prevent violence against women and children.
Based on this research, a framework, Change the Story, has been developed to emphasise the role employers play in the shared goal of building a safe, equal and respectful society.
FDV is prevalent and preventable. Employers are key stakeholders in ensuring that individuals with experience of family and domestic violence have access to appropriate support structures.
But employers also have a role in prevention, as they are central to ensuring cultural and economic systems that contribute to gender equality and the social capital and economic empowerment of women in Australian society.
In terms of “gender drivers” that impact on violence against women, male control of decision-making can either positively or negatively impact on a woman’s economic independence and social well-being. Stereotyping and being disrespectful to women is characteristically linked to condoning domestic violence.
Employers should promote and normalise gender equality in public and private life. There is significant positive economic advantage to employers improving this equality in their workforce, as has been consistently proven.
Change the Story urges employers to recognise that mutually reinforcing actions are required through policy and program responses from governments, organisations and individuals.
Leadership is required from those not traditionally engaged in responding to violence against women, including workplaces that set an example for the community by advocating for gender equality.
While the business community await the decision of the FWC’s Full Bench into paid domestic violence leave, employers will continue to manage workers who are experiencing violence at home.
Employers should have established policies in FDV, and employees should be aware of their entitlements and responsibilities in this area.
It goes without saying that workers may well be apprehensive about sharing details about incidents of FDV, but a clear workplace policy on this issue will establish a culture of trust.
Mutual solutions are more likely to be reached when Human Resources, Safety or at least a line manager are informed and provide tailored solutions to a specific situation.
If employees receive the necessary support in their workplace, it is likely to have the best outcome for all parties.
In addition to facilitating workable solutions, employers have a duty of care towards their employees.
If one of your workers has given you cause for concern through absenteeism, or appears distracted or anxious, it is possible that they could well be experiencing FDV.
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