What is the union’s role?

December 1, 2015

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 victims report that their work was negatively affected. Poor work performance, difficulty concentrating on the job, lateness and missing work can leave victims 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 a victim’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 the victims of domestic violence remain employed can:

  • Reduce the risk of abuse provide an avenue for information and support
  • Prevent victims from feeling trapped in the relationship due to financial dependence
  • Be a way for abusers to get help

How can union stewards, joint OH&S 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 behavior used by one person to gain power and control over another in an intimate relationship. 

DV can occur between current and former partners of any age. It occurs in people of all racial, economic, and religious backgrounds, amongst people with disabilities, and exists in both same sex and heterosexual relationships.