What is Domestic Violence in the Workplace?

This package refers to violence originating from the family, the home, or an intimate relationship that spills over into the work environment , whether in the form of a violent incident, or through the effects that experiencing domestic violence have on an employee, on their work, and the associated safety risks to the workplace.

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When the effects of domestic violence follow a victim to work, it can become a serious workplace issue, and everyone may feel negative consequences, without realizing what is happening. Some examples are when the abuser:

  • Sends threatening e-mails, voice messages and/or faxes
  • Humiliates the victim by criticizing or degrading them in front of other staff
  • Frequently contacts the workplace and other staff to keep tabs on the victim
  • Shows up at the workplace to check in on the victim
  • Arrives at the workplace at the end of the day to walk the victim out, as a form of control
  • Drops by the workplace to visit co-workers to gather information about the victim’s whereabouts
  • Hits, slaps, or pushes the victim at the workplace

In small towns and rural areas with populations of less than 10,000, rates of domestic violence (and related murders) are significantly more frequent ¹. This means the chances are that one or more of your employees (past or present) have been experiencing domestic violence without you being aware of it.

¹ The New Brunswick’s Silent Witness Project honours women who have been murdered by a spouse, partner or acquaintance, while raising awareness about family violence and promoting action in communities to end violence (The Silent Witness Project 2016).

Who Should Read This Employer Package?

Every busy Restigouche employer! This package provides key information and references to other resources for employers regarding the impacts of domestic violence on their workplaces, and what they can do to support an employee experiencing violence. Be better prepared to recognize and respond to situations when domestic violence impacts your workplace.

As mentioned in Section 5 of this package, there is also a more detailed comprehensive guide that has been developed for all employers across New Brunswick on the subject of domestic violence in the workplace, available at:

The Benefits to an Employer From Using This Package:

An employer who knows how to talk with and support an employee who is experiencing domestic violence (for example, by providing some flexible work arrangements or scheduling) will create the conditions for a trusting professional working relationship, that may allow her to maintain her financial security (by continuing to work) and remain a productive employee.

A woman who is experiencing domestic violence, and who can maintain her job, is far more likely to successfully transition from her situation of violence and be a valuable and productive employee in that workplace.

Retaining good employees is a key concern for Restigouche employers, and many employers do not realize they may be losing some good workers due to unidentified domestic violence. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to support an employee who may be experiencing violence. Learn how to recognize the signs, how to talk with an employee, and how to access a range of available resources for both employers and employees.

By becoming a domestic violence-informed employer, you can:

  • Reduce staff turnover and absenteeism
  • Spend less time dealing with employees' personal issues, and have more free time to build/work your business
  • Know how to support an employee who is dealing with domestic violence
  • Have happier and more productive workers
  • Have a safer work environment for all your employees, customers, and yourself as an owner/manager
  • Increase retention rates for your valuable employees

The Costs to Employers If Domestic Violence Is Not Addressed:

About the Breaking Workplace Silence Project

The costs to a business can be serious. Domestic violence can lead to decreased productivity, poor performance, low employee morale, increased risks of accidents or injuries, increased absenteeism, and increased staff turnover. A study conducted with Canadian employers revealed that “Canadian employers lose $77.9 million annually due to the direct and indirect impacts of domestic violence, and the costs, to individuals, families and society, go far beyond that ²”.

The Breaking Workplace Silence project is delivered by the Restigouche Community Business Development Corporation (CBDC), in partnership with the Maison Notre-Dame House women’s shelter, the Campbellton Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Restigouche Community Inclusion Network, and the Restigouche Entrepreneurship Centre, as well as many other private sector and non-profit sector partners. The project is funded in part by Women and Gender Equality Canada. Click here to view the full list of the project partners.

² Canadian Labour Congress. 2015. “Domestic Violence at Work.”

Why Does This Package Focus on Women?

This project was initiated to increase private sector leadership and investment in women experiencing violence, in particular domestic violence, with the broader objective of increasing women’s economic security — a critical piece in improving women’s overall well-being. Statistics show that women are significantly more often the victims of domestic violence, compared to men. The project’s main objective is to increase women’s access to sustainable employment by raising the awareness of employers regarding the issues and barriers that women face when trying to transition from situations of violence to stable economic security.

Research conducted as part of this project captured the voices of women who experienced violence in the Restigouche region and revealed numerous barriers they have faced in terms of employment (keeping a job or obtaining a new job). This Employer Package is a result of this research and of close collaboration with a range of Restigouche employers and other partners with expertise in domestic violence and human resources management.

Different Terms for the Violence That Women Experience:

Women can experience different forms of violence, for which many different terms can be used. In this package, we have chosen to use the term “domestic violence”. However, we have not intended to exclude other terms and descriptions of violence that a woman could experience in her personal life and which have potential to spill into the workplace, such as: family violence, sexual violence, intimate partner violence, and interpersonal violence.

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We gratefully acknowledge the materials developed by the New Brunswick Domestic Violence in the Workplace Committee.

Many of the resources and information contained in this document are from the work of this committee and their “It’s Your Business – A Domestic & Intimate Partner Violence Workplace Toolkit”, which can be accessed on their website at:

Disclaimer 1

The resources on this website are not intended to replace the advice and services of professionals such as counsellors,
lawyers, or healthcare providers. We have developed these resources based on current research and information about
domestic violence. Any reference to legislation (laws) should be considered general in nature and scope.

The resources on this website are offered to employers and others with the understanding that the authors, editors,
contributors, and project partner organizations are not providing legal advice. Employers using this package should seek
legal advice with respect to specific legal matters.