THE Surrey Board of Trade in partnership with the South Surrey White Rock Chamber of Commerce released their Domestic Abuse Impacts to Business Position Paper this week.
“Domestic abuse is typically viewed as a problem that occurs within the confines of a person’s home. However, abusers seek control and when a victim leaves their home, they are still not safe. Domestic abuse can enter the workplace when an abuser attempts to harass, stalk, threaten, or injure a victim while at work,” said Anita Huberman, CEO, Surrey Board of Trade.
“We as business owners have a role to ensure the well-being and safety of our employees and our workplaces by supporting them when they need it. In the end this ensures a sustainable productive workplace,” said Cliff Annable, Executive Director, South Surrey and White Rock Chamber of Commerce.
Highlights of the Position Paper are:
1. The Implications for Business: Higher Costs, Lower Productivity:
* Domestic abuse plays a significant role within a workplace. Domestic abuse can:
– Reduce employee productivity and motivation
– Loss of focus, which can also lead to increased risk of injury
– Lead to absenteeism
* Replacement, recruitment, and training costs if victims are injured or dismissed for poor performance
* Higher company health expenses
* Decreased worker morale
* Strained co-worker relations
* Potential harm to employees, co-workers, and / or clients when a violent abuser enters the workplace
* Liability costs if a member of the public or another employee in the workplace is harmed
2. The Legal Obligations for Business:
* Domestic violence that occurs outside of the workplace and beyond an employee’s assigned work duties is not workplace violence and the employer has no legal obligation to address it. However, if domestic violence spills into the workplace, the employer may have certain legal duties. For example, if a worker’s partner makes a threat of violence that puts the workplace at risk or comes to harm the employee at work, the employer must take steps to address the risk to employees. Four steps to meeting Employers’ legal obligations:
* If the employer learns of a threat — assess the risk
According to the Worksafe BC Regulation, employers must conduct a risk assessment if there is interaction between employees and persons other than co-workers that might lead to threats or assaults. If the employer learns about domestic violence that puts your employees at risk, he or she must assess the risk and decide how best to protect them. A sample risk assessment tool as well as links to other resources and professionals that can help you to conduct a risk assessment can be found at www.worksafebc.com/domesticviolence
* Eliminate or minimize the risk
If the threat of violence is imminent, the employer should contact the police immediately.
* Instruct workers
Inform staff of a hazard as soon as it is identified. If the employer learns of a risk from an individual, the employer must inform any staff who may encounter the individual, in the course of their employment about the person’s identity, the nature and extent of the risk, as well as the necessary controls. There is no duty to inform all workers.
* Responding to an incident
If a violent incident occurs in the workplace review the employers’ obligations under sections 172 to 177 of the Workers Compensation Act and s3.4 of the Regulation to report and / or investigate the incident and take the appropriate action. If a worker is injured in a violent workplace incident, advise her / him to consult with a physician.
The Surrey Board of Trade and the South Surrey White Rock Chamber of Commerce recommend that the provincial and federal governments implement the following policy and educational recommendations:
Create and implement training, education, supports, and partnerships, especially with the tools provided by WorkSafeBC
a) Develop and implement an engagement strategy to identify key issues, specific actions, strategies, timelines and desired outcomes in collaboration with community partners
b) Develop resource materials to support the legal community and public in preparing for the transition to the Family Law Act
3. Accountability and Justice
a) Determine next steps regarding domestic violence courts upon review of the BC Justice Reform Initiative report.
b) Develop legal education materials for the public with the Public Legal Education Institute and the Legal Services Society on the Family Law Act.
For the full position paper, go to www.businessinsurrey.com