What is the union’s role?

Why do workplaces and unions need to be involved in domestic violence awareness?

One in three workers have been impacted by domestic violence at work and over 80 percent of people who have experienced domestic violence report that their work was negatively affected. Poor work performance, difficulty concentrating on the job, lateness and missing work can leave people who experience domestic violence vulnerable to discipline at work or job loss.

Canadian workplaces are largely unprepared to respond to domestic violence and as a result, workers have been harmed at work.

Often perpetrators of domestic violence will target their partner or ex-partner’s workplace as a means to access the victim, since work typically is a consistent place in one’s life which remains unchanged and predictable. Even if a victim has moved out of an abusive home, perpetrators may still be able to access them at their workplace.

Supporting members impacted by domestic violence is important. Ensuring that people who experience abuse remain employed can:

  • Prevent workers who are subjected to abuse from feeling trapped in the relationship due to financial dependence
  • Interrupt isolation through contact with co-workers
  • Help the person experiencing abuse access information and supports at work

How can union stewards, occupational health and safety reps, and other union representatives respond to domestic violence at work?

In order for union stewards, human resources people, and joint health and safety reps to respond to domestic violence at work, they must understand what it is, as well as how to recognize warning signs and risk factors of domestic violence.

Domestic violence is any form of physical, sexual, emotional or psychological abuse, including stalking and financial control. Domestic violence is different in each situation, however, it is always a pattern of behaviour used by one person to gain power and control over another in an intimate relationship.

Domestic violence can occur between current and former partners of any age. It occurs amongst people of all racial, economic, and religious backgrounds and people with disabilities, and exists in intimate relationships between people of any genders.