Feeling isolated under stay at home orders is an entirely normal sensation. Conversely, isolation from friends, coworkers, family, and other members of your support group when you’re living in a domestic violence situation can quickly turn dangerous. Working from home can be both a blessing and a curse depending on the situation a person faces at home.
Now more than ever, employers should be aware of warning signs and take extra precautions when it comes to suspected domestic abuse. While a stay at home orders are mandatory, they should never put a person at more of a health risk than normal circumstances dictate. Here are a few ways employers can lessen the chance for their employees and ensure their workforce remains as safe as possible.
Understand the Effects of Stress and Anxiety
Stress and anxiety do not cause domestic violence, but it may exacerbate an existing issue. Understand that any or all of your employees may find the lockdown stressful. That home situations can make work harder to focus on, especially if someone is potentially in danger. If ever there was a time to be more lenient with deadlines, this is it.
Incorporate Frequent Check-Ins
While virtual meetings are quickly becoming the new normal, it’s essential to check in on your employees, especially if you’re personally worried about an employee. It is better always to assume that a perpetrator is listening in or monitoring communication, so be sure to communicate safely.
Provide a Code Word and a Safe Way to End Calls
If you suspect an employee cannot speak openly and safely, always have a phrase on hand to tell them to say to prevent putting them in more danger. Saying something like “if it isn’t safe to talk right now, please say ‘I’m sorry there’s no one here by the name of Amanda, you have the wrong number.’ This can allow an employee to safely end a call while also alerting their employer of a potentially dangerous situation. If your job allows in-person meetings, establish a code word that can easily be added into a standard work conversation without raising alarms.
Allow Flexible Work Hours
Often, leaving home for work provides a comforting respite from domestic violence. During the global lockdown, remaining home with a perpetrator can bring on more stress and make it seem like a person is living in a hopeless situation. Allowing your employees to have flexible work hours gives them time and opportunity to leave the house for a walk or errands and could potentially save them from harm.
Distribute Helpful Resources
All employers should have a list of useful resources on hand for domestic violence victims. Remind your employees of these programs with monthly newsletters or in meetings where appropriate. Make them easy to access so they can be on hand when needed.