Australia is waking up to the impact of family violence. But for many workplaces, addressing family violence is unchartered waters. A new report by workplace psychologists Caraniche at Work seeks to help employers take the first steps to addressing this complex issue.
Violence from an intimate partner affects one in six Australian female workers, according to the Human Rights Commission. The impact of family violence can be felt in staff absenteeism, impaired work performance and on-the-job harassment, and seen in employees who leave their jobs at short notice.
The good news is we are slowly seeing Australian workplaces implement strategies to address this issue. Large private sector employers such as Telstra, KPMG, Woolworths, IKEA, NAB, Westpac and PwC all provide paid family and domestic violence leave entitlements to their staff.
New Zealand has gone a step further and recently passed federal legislation granting those facing family violence with 10 days of paid leave. In Australia, the Fair Work Commission also recently ruled that all Australian employees covered by modern awards will be entitled to five days of unpaid leave if required.
Although strategies to support this issue are slowly gaining momentum, evidence suggests that a majority of workplaces don't have the frameworks in place to offer the proper support to employees who are experiencing family violence. In a national survey on domestic violence and the workplace, only 10 per cent of employees found their managers' response useful when disclosing their violent experience.
"While HR professionals cannot be expected to act as counsellors, there is value in training them to feel equipped to recognise family violence, respond sensitively, provide access to internal supports, and refer employees to relevant external services," says Amanda Mechanic, manager, Caraniche at Work.
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