Businesses, in particular small businesses, are not aware of the law and their obligation to employees around domestic violence, and it is costing them on average $6,000 per year, a new report says.
This cost comes due to increased risk of workplace violence, increased illness and absenteeism, possible legal liabilities, increased employee turnover and reduced productivity, according to the soon-to-be-released report from the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland (CCIQ). It also says domestic violence cost the Queensland economy $3.4 billion during the 2019–20 financial year and two-thirds of businesses do not have any policies or guidelines to address family or domestic violence.
And it is smaller businesses, female-dominated industries and businesses in rural and remote areas that are impacted the most, according to CCIQ policy adviser Luisa Baucia.
“Domestic and family violence issues can spill over into people’s social and working lives and create workplace health and safety risks. Workers at all levels, from CEOs to administration assistants, are experiencing domestic and family violence and may need business-led support or referral to find safety,” said Ms Baucia. “Often, workplaces are safe havens and the only place someone experiencing domestic and family violence is able to find reprieve.”
She added that “businesses are vulnerable if they do not understand the laws they need to comply with and need to have policies and strategies for how they will deal with employees experiencing domestic and family violence when these issues arise”.
According to the research, which was conducted via a survey and consultation workshop, the accommodation and hospitality sectors reported higher numbers of employees experiencing domestic and family violence, while a high number of businesses in the construction and manufacturing industries reported having a very poor understanding of employer obligations and employee rights regarding domestic and family violence.
Statistics from domestic violence advocates White Ribbon said that around 60% of women experiencing domestic violence are working and that only 20% of employees surveyed would feel confident knowing how to help a colleague undergoing domestic violence.