Monday, May 29, 2000

Domestic violence takes toll at work

Gannett News Service

        Domestic violence affects people in the workplace in ways that have a direct bearing on productivity, according to VMC Behavioral Healthcare Services of Gurnee, Ill.

        Gus Stieber, director of business development, quotes figures from the Family Violence Prevention Fund that say:

        • 25 percent of women have experienced domestic violence; 33 percent of those women report that the abuse has adversely affected their work performance.

        • A study of survivors of domestic violence found that abusive husbands and partners harassed 75 percent of employed battered women at work.

        • 50 percent of abused women lose their days of work per month because of injuries or other medical problems related to abuse; 90 percent lose one day per month.

        The Bureau of National Affairs said domestic abuse costs U.S. businesses $3 billion to $5 billion in lost productivity annually.

        Because the workplace is also where many women facing domestic violence spend at least eight hours per day, it is an ideal place for them to get the help and support they need. “Companies need to implement elaborate programs to help victims of domestic abuse,” Mr. Stieber said.

        VMC suggests that employers implement these activities to help combat domestic violence:

        • Train managers about how to recognize the signs of domestic violence and how to discuss workplace policies.

        • Encourage employees to seek help from their Employee Assistance Programs, whose therapists are trained to counsel on domestic violence.

        • Conduct workshops on domestic violence and make presentations accessible to employees in all shifts.

        • Organize a wellness fair with information about domestic violence and other issues of importance to employees.

        • Include an article about domestic violence in your company newsletter or bulletin or post one on your company's Intranet.


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