Purpose

These guidelines are intended to assist City divisions and employees in meeting the commitments expressed in the Addressing Domestic/Intimate Partner Violence in City Workplaces policy.

Warning signs or observable behaviours that may indicate domestic/intimate partner violence

Warning signs that an employee may be a victim of domestic/intimate partner violence can include:

  • Injuries such as bruises, black eyes, broken bones, especially if he or she tries to conceal them or offers unconvincing explanations for how they occurred
  • Uncharacteristic absenteeism or lateness, poor concentration, increasing errors and inconsistent work quality
  • Requests for special accommodation, such as leaving early or time off to attend court
  • Signs of emotional distress, such as unusual quietness, isolation from others or sometimes increasing aggressive behavior towards others
  • An unusual number of phone calls, faxes, or emails from a current or former partner, and a reluctance to converse or respond to phone messages
  • Abrupt changes of address or reluctance to divulge where he or she is residing

Actions that City employees who are victims of domestic/intimate partner abuse can take to minimize risk

It is recognized that domestic/intimate partner violence victims often remain silent out of embarrassment, a sense of helplessness and fear. Just as a supportive work environment makes employees feel safe in reporting workplace hazards, an environment of trust and respect will assist someone experiencing domestic/intimate partner violence to tell an employer, supervisor or co-worker and to seek assistance or protection especially if there is the likelihood that the perpetrator will contact them in the workplace. The City and its managers must be careful about violating an employee’s privacy, but employees who experience domestic/intimate partner violence must recognize the importance of disclosure if domestic/intimate partner violence may place her/him or co-workers at risk in the workplace. There are actions the employer can take to minimize the risk of violence.

Some steps an employee who is experiencing domestic/intimate partner violence may take include:

  • Asking the employer for assistance in creating a safety plan that considers the employee’s needs at work
  • Keeping employer informed of threats and abusive actions
  • Asking if calls can be screened, if employee’s phone number can be changed or removed from directories or if abuser’s e-mails can be blocked
  • Asking for priority parking near the building or escorts to public transportation or employee’s vehicle
  • Asking to be relocated and that new location not be disclosed
  • Exploring alternative work arrangements (e.g. adjusted start and finish times so that work pattern becomes less predictable)
  • Providing a recent photo or description of the abuser to security/reception for identification purposes
  • Get counseling through the Employee Assistance Plan
  • Keeping a record of all incidents and keep all threatening voice messages and E-mails
  • Mentioning the workplace in restraining orders ,advising the employer and providing a copy of the order

Actions that supervisors can take to address domestic/intimate partner violence in the workplace

In advance of being advised that an employee is experiencing domestic/intimate partner violence in the workplace

  • Create and maintain a supportive workplace atmosphere
  • Be approachable to the victim or co-workers so they are encouraged to report
  • Be aware of observable signs or behaviours that may suggest domestic/intimate partner abuse
  • Make employees aware of resources regarding domestic/intimate partner violence (City and external) (Note: Resource information is posted on the City’s intranet – see Domestic/Intimate Partner Violence Resources and Tools webpage)
  • Have information available with respect to legal, counseling and safety planning resources

Upon learning that an employee is experiencing domestic/intimate partner violence in the workplace

  • Be supportive
  • Make it clear to the employee that his/her privacy will be protected to the extent possible, but that adequate steps will be taken to protect workplace safety. Only those who need information to protect the workplace from a violent event will be given information
  • Encourage the employee to develop a personal safety plan, which includes provisions for work and traveling to work
  • Provide employee information with respect to resources (city and external) regarding domestic/intimate partner violence
  • Encourage employee to save threatening voicemails or emails in case of future legal action
  • Allow the employee to have priority parking near the building
  • Screen calls by routing them through main reception or security
  • Relocate the employee to a more secured area
  • Provide a photo or description of the perpetrator to reception areas and/or security
  • Provide escorts to walk the employee to and from a vehicle or public transportation
  • Document every report of workplace violence, including reports of domestic/intimate partner violence that reflect workplace events. ocumentation should include a record of any workplace appearances or communications by the abusers
  • Accommodate employees who request time off to attend court proceedings
  • Domestic/intimate partner violence records should be kept secure and confidential, with information distributed on a “need to know” basis only and kept separate from an employee’s regular personnel file
  • The most dangerous time in an abusive relationship typically occurs when a victim is attempting to separate from the abuser, so additional precautions may need to be taken in the workplace. To assist with this, it is important to maintain ongoing supportive communication with the employee so that we are more likely to be made aware of this potential scenario.

Upon learning or receiving a report that an employee is a perpetrator of domestic/intimate partner violence in the workplace:

The City will not in any way condone perpetrators of domestic/intimate partner violence and expects them to:

  • Seek treatment through the Employee Assistance Program
  • Be aware that the city will appropriately investigate reported abuse and enforce the City’s policy

Actions that co-workers/colleagues can take to support victims of domestic/intimate partner abuse

Co-workers who recognize the signs of domestic/intimate partner violence can provide support by:

  • Encouraging employee to speak with their direct supervisor, or another management person that they feel comfortable with so that supports can be put in place to protect them in the workplace
  • Providing a listening ear, letting the victim know that their privacy will be respected and not share personal details about the victim’s situation without their permission
  • Not blaming the victim or perpetrator
  • Not telling the victim what to do
  • Providing a list of available resources, including information about the Employee Assistance Program (see Domestic/Intimate Partner Violence Resources)
  • Offering to screen phone calls or e-mails, if the work situation permits

Approved by

Occupational Health & Safety Co-ordinating Committee (OHSCC), February 13, 2013

Date Approved

February 13, 2013

Related Information

Addressing Domestic/Intimate Partner Violence in City Workplaces Policy
DIP “You are Not Alone” Poster
Domestic Intimate Partner Violence Resources