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Combating Domestic Violence in the Workplace

President Obama recently issued a Memorandum to the heads of the executive departments and agencies regarding Domestic Violence in the workplace.  The memo requires the Office of Personnel Management to establish policies to better assist victims of domestic violence who are federal employees.  According to the memo, the CDC estimates that $8 billion dollars in productivity and health care costs are lost every year due to domestic violence.  This is in addition, of course, to the personal and family losses that are also caused by domestic violence.

We often forget that the President is not just a political, foreign and domestic leader, but that he is also the C.E.O. of the federal executive branch, which, including the armed forces, employs more than 4 million american citizens.  Therefore, the policies of the president's administration on issues such as domestic violence affect a large percentage of the american workforce.

Specifically, the memo requires OPM to issue guidance on policies

"to prevent domestic violence and address its effects on the Federal workforce. The guidance shall include recommended steps agencies can take as employers for early intervention in and prevention of domestic violence committed against or by employees, guidelines for assisting employee victims, leave policies relating to domestic violence situations, general guidelines on when it may be appropriate to take disciplinary action against employees who commit or threaten acts of domestic violence, measures to improve workplace safety related to domestic violence, and resources for identifying relevant best practices related to domestic violence;"

While it remains to be seen how this will be implemented (especially in an election year), the goal of addressing all of these issues with directed policies is commendable, and should be a model for all employers.  Not only will having policies in place to address domestic violence help your staff know what to do in these situations, addressing the issues will result in a safer and more productive work-force.

If you want to learn more about the resources available to help domestic violence victims in Massachusetts check out these resources available on the Massachusetts State website, and seek help.  If you or someone you know suffers from Sexual or Domestic Violence, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE for immediate assistance.

For more information about Abuse Protection Orders in Massachusetts, visit our Restraining Order webpage.


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