Edmonton - The Alberta Federation of Labour marked December 6th with a call for employers, supervisors, workers, professional associations and unions to take joint action on domestic violence and its impact in the workplace.
"The basis for action should be the extensive toolkit developed by the Health Sciences Association of Alberta and Alberta Council of Women's Shelters," says Nancy Furlong, Secretary-Treasurer of the Alberta Federation of Labour, representing 140,000 workers across the province.
The issue of domestic violence and its impact upon the workplace has come to light in recent years.
In a recent Alberta study, more than 20 per cent of respondents reported they had experienced the impact of domestic violence in the workplace. In an Ontario study, 38 per cent of nurses reported a history of domestic violence. Another U.S. study of Fortune 500 companies found 18 per cent of women employees had experienced domestic violence.
The Alberta Council of Women's Shelters and Health Sciences Association of Alberta developed a toolkit, Everyone's Business, as a result of a five-year partnership that saw them consult with businesses and labour leaders across the province.
The toolkit provides a guide for employers, pamphlets aimed at workers and supervisors, and information cards. The guide for employers provides protocols, draft team member functions, a model workplace policy and a sample safety checklist for the worksite.
The toolkit recognizes that domestic violence has a range of impacts on the workplace, from absenteeism and productivity losses to a domestic partner actually perpetrating violence against an employee at work.
Alberta's Occupational Health and Safety (OS&S) code (Part 27, section 390) requires employers to develop policy and procedures respecting potential workplace violence. Section 391 of the Code requires employers to provide instruction on recognizing, response and reporting of violence.
"It is unclear if the province actually enforces this section of the code and how many employers in Alberta actually take domestic violence and its effect on the workplace seriously," says Furlong.
"This is why Alberta's unions are exercising leadership on violence prevention in the workplace. On December 6th, we must remember that violence against women affects us all, and in every aspect of our lives - including our workplaces," concludes Furlong.
Nancy Furlong, Secretary Treasurer, Alberta Federation of Labour - 780-483-3021; cell 780-720-8945