Human Resources Policies
Domestic/Intimate Partner Violence Policy
Addressing Domestic/Intimate Partner Violence in City Workplaces Policy

Category: Health and Safety
Sub-Category: General

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Policy Statement

The City of Toronto is committed to working with its employees to provide a safe work environment.

The City recognizes that domestic/intimate partner violence may impact an employee or employees in a City workplace, The Occupational Health and Safety Act requires City divisions and supervisors to take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for worker protection if they become aware, or ought reasonably to be aware, of an employee in a domestic/intimate partner violence situation that may expose a worker to physical injury in the workplace. The City is committed to meeting this legal responsibility in a manner that:

  • is sensitive to, and supportive of, the needs of employees who are in domestic/intimate partner violence situations
  • provides employees who are in domestic/intimate partner violence situations access to information regarding resources and supports to ensure their physical safety, emotional health, and basic material and financial needs
  • is protective of the health and safety of all employees that may be placed at risk as a result of domestic/intimate partner situations impacting the workplace while respecting the privacy rights of the employee in a domestic/intimate partner violence situation

This policy is supported by guidelines to assist the workplace parties in addressing domestic/intimate partner violence in City workplaces.

A number of resources are available within the City to assist divisions and employees with addressing domestic/intimate partner violence, including Corporate Security, Human Resources and Employee Assistance. A number of these resource people have specialized knowledge of this subject area.


Application

The Domestic/Intimate Partner Violence policy applies to all City divisions and employees.

Definitions

Domestic/intimate partner violence is the intentional and systematic use of tactics to induce fear and establish and maintain power and control over the thoughts, beliefs and conduct of another in an intimate/familial relationship. The pattern of behaviour may include physical violence, sexual, emotional /psychological abuse exhibited by verbal abuse, stalking and using electronic means. Anyone can be a victim of domestic/intimate partner violence, regardless of gender, age, race, religion, sexual orientation, economic status or education. The abuser may be a current or former spouse or partner, relative or friend. Other common terms for domestic/intimate partner violence include personal relationship violence or family violence.

Responsibilities

The City will:

  • Strive to create a workplace that:

    • is free from all forms of violence, including domestic/intimate partner violence
    • supports employees who are recognized to be, or who report being, victims of domestic/intimate partner violence
  • Take reasonable preventative measures to protect the safety of employees who request assistance in the workplace because they are the victims of domestic/intimate partner violence
  • Respect the confidentiality of the employee who reports domestic/intimate partner violence, informing other employees on a need-to-know basis only, and only to the extent necessary to protect safety and to comply with legislative requirements

Managers/supervisors will:

  • Understand and uphold the principles of this policy
  • Ensure this policy is explained to employees
  • Be aware of observable signs or behaviours that may suggest domestic/intimate partner abuse
  • Take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for worker protection if they become aware, or ought reasonably to be aware, that domestic/intimate partner violence that would likely expose a worker to physical injury may occur in the workplace
  • Provide informed and supportive responses to employees experiencing or witnessing domestic/intimate partner violence in the workplace. Make these employees aware of resources (internal and external to the City) that are available to assist victims of domestic/intimate partner violence (Note: Resource list is an appendix to this policy)
  • Work with employees who report being the victims of domestic/intimate partner violence that may pose a threat in the workplace in developing a workplace safety plan to protect them and others in the workplace. This plan will be individualized to the circumstances reported but may include elements such as:
    • Resource and referral information
    • Call screening, new phone number, e-mail blocking, removal of employee contact information from public directories
    • Additional security and/or security measures at the workplace
    • Work schedule adjustment to enable domestic/intimate partner violence victim to obtain medical, counselling or legal assistance
    • Workplace relocation
  • Consult confidentially with other City staff (e.g. Corporate Security, People, Equity & Human Rights, Employee Assistance Program) in developing the workplace safety plan
  • Properly document any report of domestic/intimate partner violence
  • Protect the confidentiality of employees who report domestic/intimate partner violence within the limits needed for safety, recognizing that information may need to be shared on a strictly need-to-know basis if an employee's safety at work is jeopardized
  • Take all reasonable and practical measures to protect workers, acting in good faith, who report domestic/intimate partner violence in the workplace or act as witnesses, from reprisals (acts of retaliation, direct or indirect) or further violence
  • Take appropriate corrective and/or disciplinary actions to address instances in which an employee uses workplace resources to perpetrate domestic/intimate partner violence

Employees who are witnesses to domestic/intimate partner violence in the workplace are required to:

  • Take action to ensure their own immediate safety in the event of a domestic/intimate partner violence incident
  • Report any such incident immediately to the supervisor or manager
  • Report to their supervisor/manager any information that indicates the safety of any employee in the workplace is at risk as a result of domestic/intimate partner violence
  • Apart from these situations, maintain confidentiality regarding a co-worker experiencing domestic/intimate partner violence

The City recognizes that employees experiencing domestic/intimate partner violence may be reluctant to disclose the problem to a supervisor or manager. The City encourages disclosure in order to protect the safety of the employee and others in the workplace. Disclosure also enables the City to support the employee and provide links to appropriate services. Although the City respects the employee's need for confidentiality, an employee is responsible for:

  • Disclosing any situation that threatens the safety of the workplace
  • Informing the supervisor/manager if they have applied for, or obtained, a restraining order that includes the workplace as a protected area.

The Occupational Health and Safety Coordinating Committee will:

  • Review this policy and guidelines and make recommendations for amendments, as needed.

Authorities

  • Occupational Health and Safety Act of Ontario (R.S.O. 1990, c. 0.1)
  • Criminal Code of Canada (1985)
  • City of Toronto Corporate Occupational Health and Safety Policy (1999, reviewed annually)


Guidelines

  • Guidelines for Implementing the Domestic Violence Policy

Endorsed by

  • Occupational Health & Safety Co-ordinating Committee (OHSCC), February 13, 2013

OHSCC Reviewed:

  • September 29, 2015
  • June 27, 2017

Approved by

City Manager

Date Approved

March 4, 2013

Reviewed by OHSCC

June 27, 2017


Related links - external


Attachments

R1 Domestic Intimate Partner Violence Resources - FINAL.pdf (237 Kbytes)

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