Protecting Women Survivors of Domestic Violence in the Workplace

Protecting Women Survivors of Domestic Violence in the Workplace

On July 2, the Kering Foundation and Led by HER have launched during an online event a Comparative research on workplace laws to combat domestic violence. Roundtables including panelists were from ILO, Council of Europe, OECD and UNESCO, and more than 200 people participated to this digital event. The report compares the legal framework that 6 countries--Italy, the United Kingdom England and Wales, France, Australia, New Zealand, and Ontario Canada--have put in place to support women victims of domestic violence in the workplace. It highlights best practices and gaps in policies addressing domestic violence in the workplace. The report was compiled with the support of legal teams from Dentons and TrustLaw, the Thomson Reuters Foundation’s global legal pro bono network.

Today, 1 out of 3 women is or will be a victim of some form of intimate partner violence (WHO 2020). Although this violence takes place in the private sphere, it has an impact on the professional lives of the woman survivor and her colleagues. Worldwide an estimated 2 out of 10 full-time female employees are currently victims of domestic violence, and approximately 1 in 3 female employees report that they have experienced domestic violence by an intimate partner during their working lives (ILO/UN Women 2019).
Research has started to reveal the direct impact that domestic violence has on the workplace. The One In Three Women network, which the Kering Foundation co-founded in 2018 alongside the Fondation FACE, released the first company study of its kind in Europe, analyzing employees’ experiences of domestic violence and its impacts on their companies. Its findings confirmed that domestic violence affects employee survivors, having an impact, for example, on their job performance due to what is happening at home, as well as their co-workers and the companies that employ them, in multiple ways.

The adoption in June 2019 of the new International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention on eliminating violence and harassment in the world of work (C.190) and the accompanying Recommendation (R.206) places new responsibilities on governments and on employers to implement measures to prevent and address through social dialogue all forms of violence and harassment, including domestic violence when it affects the workplace. Some countries have already put into place state-level legislation to protect their employees who have suffered from domestic violence. Some companies have also developed protection measures, going beyond the requirements of current legislation.

Today it is important that all countries and companies address this issue so that women survivors benefit from equal protection, regardless of their employer. Now, in the midst of the covid-19 pandemic and the consequences of nation-wide lockdowns, it is more urgent than ever to act on this issue. The UN reported a “horrifying global surge of domestic violence” with the number of women calling helplines as much as doubling in certain countries. As a result, an increasing number of workplaces will feel the impacts as women return to work. This is the time to put into place needed protective measures for all survivors of domestic violence.

Our hope is that this report inspires best practices at the national level but also in individual companies, to implement effective measures to support victims of domestic abuse. Making the workplace a safe and supportive environment for women survivors is our shared responsibility.


Full report below.