Domestic violence impacts work life. In Canada, over a third of people have experienced violence at the hands of an intimate partner or ex-partner. The trauma and stress that victims experience frequently affects a worker’s ability to do their job.
Impact of domestic violence at work
For many, the violence doesn’t stop when they get to work. Over half of those who’ve experienced domestic violence say that at least one type of abuse act has occurred at or near the workplace. This can include abusive phone calls or text messages, stalking, or harassment near the workplace.
Experiencing violence shouldn’t mean a loss of pay. Victims may need time off to attend medical appointments, get counselling, relocate, or meet with lawyers or police.
Some progress, but not enough
Last year, Manitoba amended their employment standards to provide workers who are victims of domestic violence with five days of paid leave. In November, the federal government introduced legislation to grant ten unpaid days to victims of family violence every calendar year.
These are huge first steps – but they don’t go far enough. Five days often isn’t enough to attend to ongoing medical, legal, emotional or housing needs. And the financial burden that moving or accessing resources can take means that victims often can’t afford to miss out on wages.
Call on the government to ensure that those facing domestic violence get the workplace support they need.
What is domestic violence?
Domestic violence is a pattern of behaviour used by one person to gain power and control over another with whom they have or have had an intimate relationship. It can include physical, emotional, sexual, financial, psychological and/or spiritual abuse as well as stalking or harassment. It exists in same-gender and opposite-gender relationships and may be between people who are married, divorced, common law, separated, split up, or dating.
The Facts: Domestic Violence in Canada
From the Pan-Canadian Survey on Domestic Violence and the Workplace (University of Western Ontario in partnership with the Canadian Labour Congress)
Prevalence and Gender
- One-third (34%) of respondents reported ever having experienced domestic violence from an intimate partner.
- This number varied by gender: 38% of women, 17% of men and 65% of trans people reported having experienced domestic violence.
- Indigenous respondents, respondents with disabilities, and lesbian, gay and bisexual respondents were particularly likely to have reported experiencing domestic violence in their lifetime.
Domestic Violence and the Workplace
- Of those who reported domestic violence experience, 82% said that domestic violence negatively affected their work performance, most often due to being distracted, or feeling tired and/or unwell.
- 38% indicated it impacted their ability to get to work (including being late, missing work, or both).
- In total, 8.5% of victims indicated that they had lost their job because of it.
- Over half (54%) of those reporting domestic violence experiences indicated that at least one type of abusive act occurred at or near the workplace. Of these, the most common were abusive phone calls or text messages (41%) and stalking or harassment near the workplace (21%).
- Of those who have experienced domestic violence, 43% said they discussed it with someone at work.