Domestic Violence Doesn’t Stay At Home

by Toolbox Staff

When people are victims of domestic violence, it doesn’t just stay in the home. They carry the effects with them everywhere in their everyday lives, including to work. Thankfully, though, governments and contractors are working closely to help people in abusive situations get the support they need to make their lives better.

According to a survey of 8,000 Canadian workers conducted by Faculty of Information and Media Studies at Western University in London, Ontario, and the Canadian Labour Congress that was released in 2014, one-third of respondents had experienced domestic violence. Thirty-five per cent of respondents said they believed a co-worker was experiencing domestic violence, while 12 per cent said they believed a co-worker was perpetrating domestic violence. The survey report also estimates that domestic violence costs Canadian employers $78 million in productivity every year. It also says that domestic violence victims have more trouble finding and maintaining quality work, while abusers often have trouble focusing and can sometimes cause violent incidents in the workplace.

Several Canadian provinces have enacted legislation that allows victims of domestic violence to take a leave of absence from their jobs to deal with issues arising from it. Some have also written regulations requiring managers, supervisors and workers to receive information on domestic violence from employers and instruction on what to do if they believe someone is being abused.

In Alberta, domestic violence leave is not yet written into law, but Labour Minister Christina Gray told the Canadian Press in January that it may be looked at as part of a comprehensive review of the province’s labour laws. However, she gave no indication on a timeline on that review. Currently, a page on the Alberta government’s website encourages people to know the signs that someone may be in an abusive situation (see fact box) and recommends people call the 24-Hour Family Violence Info Line at 310-1818 or visit

Gray’s comments came in response to a new deal between Rivercrest Care Centre in Fort Saskatchewan and its employees, represented by the United Steelworkers Local 1-207. The agreement allows workers who have suffered domestic violence to take paid leave for legal, medical and counselling appointments.


33.6% of respondents reported ever having experienced domestic violence from an intimate partner
81.9% of respondents who had ­experienced ­domestic violence who said it ­affected their work ­performance
8.5% of respondents who had experienced domestic violence who said it had cost them a job
– Source: “Can Work Be Safe, When Home Isn’t?” (2014) by Western University and the Canadian Labour Congress


  • Injuries like bruises, black eyes or broken bones, often explained by “falls,” “accidents” or “being clumsy”
  • Unseasonal clothing, such as long sleeves or turtlenecks in the summer, or wearing heavy makeup
  • Increased number of phone calls, emails or faxes received (there may be strong reactions to these calls or reluctance to talk with the caller)
  • Disruptive visits to the workplace by a current or former partner
  • Increased absences or lateness
  • Changes in job performance, such as poor concentration, more errors, slowness or inconsistent work quality
  • Anxiety, fear, emotional distress or depression

– Source:

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