button Vol. 8
No. 1

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Employer Cell Phone Liability Update
line Workplace Violence and Domestic Violence
line Obesity In The Workplace: Update
HR Outsourcing Trends
line Looking At Employee Turnover
line Employer Briefs

Braun Consulting News
News on Personnel, Labor Relations and Benefits

See our Archive Pages for Back Issues of Braun Consulting News!

Top Workplace Violence and Domestic Violence

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Checkmark Graphic Overview Of The Problem

Domestic violence has the potential to create incidents of violence that occur at the workplace. It can also affect the workplace in the form of loss of productivity, increased absenteeism, higher stress, increased tardiness, more health care costs, and higher turnover rates.

Businesses lose an estimated $727.8 million in productivity and more than 7.9 million paid workdays annually because of domestic violence, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (March 2003).

According to the information on the website endabuse.org there are seven main reasons employers may want to address domestic violence:

    1. Domestic violence affects many employees.
    2. Domestic violence is a security and liability concern.
    3. Domestic violence is a performance and productivity concern.
    4. Domestic violence is a health care concern.
    5. Domestic violence is a management issue.
    6. Taking action in response to domestic violence works.
    7. Employers can make a difference.

    (To find out more details about these points visit this helpful website at EndAbuse.org)

Domestic violence may not be preventable by employers, but responding to it appropriately in the workplace is possible.

Employers can make a difference to their employees and make the best out of a bad situation... possibly averting disaster at the workplace by taking the right steps in advance.

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Checkmark Graphic Workplace Violence Statistics

check graphic  In a study by Risk Control Strategies (RCS) (April 2005) it was found that more than half (58 percent) of respondents report that disgruntled employees have threatened senior managers in the past 12 months. 24 percent of those surveyed noted that senior managers had received in-person or e-mail threats, 17 percent said employees had intentionally and maliciously downloaded computer viruses, and 10 percent said they were victims of product tampering.

check graphic  The RCS survey also found that only 11.5 percent of HR managers have been trained to manage at-risk terminations and that 2 percent have trained employees to recognize and respond to warning signs of impending violence.

check graphic  "Leveling verbal threats is one of the first signs that violence is imminent," RCS Executive Vice President Doug Kane said. "Red flags such as these make workplace violence completely foreseeable and preventable."

check graphic  Inappropriate language, verbal abuse and verbal threats were the incidents of workplace violence most commonly cited by HR professionals, according to a Workplace Violence Study by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) in June 2003.

check graphic  In the same SHRM study it was found that while 60 percent of respondents said that HR is tasked with dealing with violent employee threats, only 42 percent had received such training. Also, while 20 percent of managers are expected to deal with this problem, only one-third had received training. Eight percent and 6 percent, respectively, of HR professionals said their security department and workplace violence/workplace safety committee carried out these activities.

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Checkmark Graphic Domestic Violence Statistics

check graphic  Nearly one-third of American women (31 percent) report being physically or sexually abused by a husband or boyfriend at some point in their lives.

check graphic  At least one million women and 371,000 men are victims of stalking in the U.S. each year. Stalkers often follow the victim to the workplace.

check graphic  Thirty-seven percent of women who have been subject to domestic violence reported that the abuse had an impact on their work in the form of lateness, missed work, keeping a job, or career promotions.

check graphic  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that the annual cost of lost productivity due to domestic violence equals $727.8 million, with more than 7.9 million paid workdays lost each year. (Think of sick leave or other paid time off.)

Source: http://endabuse.org/workplace/display.php?DocID=33001

check graphic  Employers lose $4.1 billion in direct costs associated with domestic violence, including health care costs such as medical and mental health care

check graphic  Lost productivity due to intimate partner violence accounts for almost $1.8 billion each year.

check graphic  13.5 million workdays are lost each year due to domestic violence. This translates to $859 million yearly.

check graphic  68% of senior executives surveyed agreed that their company's financial performance would benefit from addressing the issue of domestic violence among its employees.

check graphic  78% of Human Resource Directors identify domestic violence as a substantial employee problem.

check graphic  56% of corporate leaders are personally aware of specific employees who are affected by domestic violence.

check graphic  60% of senior executives said that domestic violence has a harmful effect on their company's productivity.

check graphic  85-95% of all domestic violence victims are female.

check graphic  Over 500,00 women are stalked by an intimate partner each year.

check graphic  Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women.

Copyright 2001 American Institute on Domestic Violence
Source: http://www.aidv-usa.com/Statistics.htm

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Checkmark Graphic Tips For A Safer Workplace

In addressing the issue of domestic violence as it affects an employee the following steps may be useful to consider in some situations:

check graphic  Document any observations regarding employees in the following areas:

    * Unusual absences and / or late arrivals
    * Bruises, or other signs of emotional distress
    * Changes in work performance
    * Mood swings or changes in personality

check graphic  Advise the employee to document all incidents of harassment and/or stalking that occur in the workplace.

check graphic  Encourage the employee to save any threatening e-mail or voice-mail messages. These may possibly be used in the future for legal action and/or evidence or violations of an existing restraining order.

check graphic  If asked for help or advised of a concern about personal safety consider changing parking arrangements for the employee so that he / she is close to the building entrance.

check graphic  Make sure any restraining order that the employee or employer would obtain includes the workplace, and make sure the workplace has a copy on hand at all times (if applicable).

check graphic  It may be helpful if the employee were to (voluntarily) identify an emergency contact person if the supervisor or manager is unable to contact the employee.

check graphic  If an employee brings a safety situation to your attention ask the employee what additional changes they suggest to make the workplace safer and more secure. No one knows the perpetrator better than the person who is the subject of unwanted attention by someone else.

Source - The information above was adapted from U.S. Office of Personnel Management Website.

Other suggestions can be found at: endabuse.org

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Checkmark Graphic Steps Employers Could Take

1. Consider creating a specific policy addressing domestic violence
if you don't have one.

General workplace violence policies do not usually address the unique specific aspects of domestic violence spilling into the workplace. It is a special kind of workplace violence.

Having a blanket "zero tolerance for violence" may have the unintended consequence of making an employee think twice about calling police or seeking a protection order if they believe their partner or abuser might be fired.

Employers should evaluate moving beyond general awareness about the issue and create a specific domestic violence workplace policy. It does not need to be complex or elaborate but something to use as a reference or starting point if an employee comes forward and makes the employer aware of a violence issue or potential threat.

2. If a policy is in place make employees aware of the policy
and remind them regularly.

Different types of awareness of the policy and/or procedures may be required for different levels of employees, but all employees should be made aware of the policy.

The point is that supervisors and co-workers will understand how to respond in an informed, non-judgmental, and appropriate way to help an abused employee.

3. Update your personnel handbook to include domestic violence policies
if they exist.

The domestic violence policy should probably be included in the personnel handbook, but it may require reviewing other related personnel policies. For example, a strict leave policy may conflict with a domestic violence policy that encourages an employee to seek help outside of work concerning law enforcement, restraining orders, court orders and such.

4. Be sure to protect employee confidentiality.

Employees may not come forward and talk to their supervisors about abuse unless they are assured that this information will remain confidential. The employee should be told of who will be informed if someone is making threats to them at the workplace or may show up at the job site.

5. Use other community support and programs.

There are often local experts and advocacy groups who can help employees look at safety options for themselves and their children. There are also outside resources to cooperate in training development and co-training with employer trainers. The employer should be an avenue to these outside resources, not the resource itself.

6. Understand and comply with all local, state and federal laws.

Federal laws such as Family Medical Leave Act, Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Occupational Safety Health Act may be involved, and more than 40 states and locales have enacted legislation specifically directed to domestic violence in the workplace. These laws may include anti-discrimination; leave provisions, and unemployment compensation protections. Remember to check these out and assure compliance.

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Checkmark Graphic Sample Policy

Employer's can find many resources on the internet, their trade association or safety and security consulting firms. While Braun Consulting does not endorse any one source for your research, to get you started we are including a link to a site for your consideration in evaluating your needs and possible ways a policy could be drafted.

Click Here for Sample Policy by Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence.

Please note: Source is Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence. CAEPV provides this sample for the SOLE PURPOSE of guidance in development of their own policies. Any policy developed by a company should always be with the advice of that company's counsel or consultant.

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Checkmark Graphic Summary

Employers may be able to make an impact on domestic violence by making their workplace a safe place for employees to go.

It doesn't have to cost a lot of money or dominate an employer's agenda.

It is a fact that employees who are in an abusive relationship often do not tell management or coworkers about their dangerous situation because of shame, embarrassment, or fear of losing their job.

If the employee knows the employer has a policy, if they know how it works and are confident that they will be protected, then they are more likely to come out and make their problems known. Until then a threat exists that can degrade the quality of life for a wide circle of people, both directly and indirectly, and may ultimately lead to an incidence of violence in the workplace.

The good news is that there are many specific procedures and policies to draw from out there, and there is a lot of help available from agencies and organizations that have experience and knowledge in these areas.

We are confident that an employer who is aware of an issue can learn how to deal with this problem in specific and effective ways so it can be done relatively easily.

As in most other situations involving the potential for violence, a little bit of preparation can go a long way in helping to create a positive outcome rather than a negative one.

If you need any further help in providing a domestic violence policy for your job site please contact Braun Consulting Group by clicking here

For other information you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline number at

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Obesity In The Workplace: Update Next Page

The Contents of this News Letter are intended for general information
and should not be construed as legal advise or opinion.
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