In March 2014 our team received funding from the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) to create an international network of researchers, domestic violence experts, social and labour organizations, and employers to conduct research and mobilize knowledge about the impacts of domestic violence in the workplace.
Domestic violence is increasingly recognized as an issue that impacts not only individuals and families, but communities and society as a whole. Victims and perpetrators of domestic violence have multiple life roles, including, often, that of worker. Mounting evidence indicates that the impacts of domestic violence on workers and workplaces, including its economic costs, are a significant and growing problem.
Internationally, the evidence linking economic independence, being in paid employment and domestic violence has been steadily developing, and we now know that: 1) women with a history of domestic violence have a more disrupted work history, are consequently on lower personal incomes, have had to change jobs more often, and more often work in casual and part time roles than women without violence experiences; and 2) being employed is a key pathway to leaving a violent relationship; the financial security that employment affords can allow women to escape the isolation of an abusive relationship, and maintain, as far as possible, their home and standard of living, both for themselves, and their children.
Being a perpetrator of domestic violence also significantly impacts a worker and their workplace. A recent study found that 53% of offenders felt their job performance was negatively impacted and 75% had hard time concentrating on their work. Their behaviours lead to a loss of paid and unpaid work time, a decrease in productivity, and safety hazards for their co-workers.