The National Retail Association has today called on the Federal Government to allocate more funding towards education programs for retail owners and staff to better support the more than 40,000 retail workers affected by family violence each year.
With a 60 per cent female workforce, retail is one of the most gendered industries, as well as the largest employer of young people, which means it’s also highly affected by family violence – given that women aged 18 – 24 are twice as likely as any other age group to be victims.
National Retail Association Director of Legal Services Dominique Lamb said while family violence was often referred to as a private and community matter in which business had no role to play, victims could end up being absent from work for as many as 18 days per year, which dramatically limited their own capacity to become financially independent and secure, as well as costing businesses more than $484 million every year.
“We must reframe this debate by identifying that this is also a workplace issue, so we can create environments in which employees feel they can speak up, and in which the business community is empowered to stand up for them, and send a strong and clear message that abusive and violent behaviour will not be tolerated,” Ms Lamb said.
With violent behaviour often spilling over from home to workplace, the NRA believes businesses could play an important role in recognising the warning signs, and fostering behavioural change.
“We are calling for a national approach aimed at educating employees about how this scourge affects the workplace; how to support employees who find themselves in this position; how to address and respond; and how to lead others with swift, decisive and effective action, without exacerbating the problem.
“The implementation of educational programs and policies to manage domestic violence provides direct benefits by increasing productivity and decreasing costs in relation to leave and staff replacement,” she said.
The NRA estimates that without effective action, the costs of productivity losses associated with absenteeism, search and hiring and retraining, as well as lost productivity of victims, perpetrators, management, co-workers, friends and family, could rise to $609 million by 2021-22.
“Change could be as simple as offering flexible working arrangements, special leave options, the possibility of working in another location, or the provision of support information through workplace training and induction,” she said.
“Businesses also stand to benefit from improved employee retention and broader reputational benefits with the introduction of human resource policies, leave arrangements and other programs to support victims of domestic violence,” she said.
Dominique Lamb is available for interviews. Contact the NRA’s media unit on (07) 3240 0163 or 0467 792 013.