Domestic violence is a significant societal issue and may have a major impact on the workplace. A person who has a personal relationship with a worker – such as a spouse or former spouse, current or former intimate partner or a family member – may physically harm, or attempt or threaten to physically harm, that worker at work. In these situations, domestic violence is considered workplace violence. Child custody issues may also result in domestic violence in school settings.

The school board must take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances to protect a worker in the workplace when they are aware, or ought reasonably to be aware, that domestic violence would likely expose a worker to physical injury in the workplace. Domestic violence situations often involve privacy considerations and any precautionary action taken by the school board should be conducted with respect and support for the worker. When faced with the potential for domestic violence in the workplace, the school board may wish to seek advice or assistance from appropriate professionals, including lawyers, police services, victim support services, or victim crisis assistance and referral services.

When a school board becomes aware that there is a potential for domestic violence to occur at the workplace, it must take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances to protect the worker. This may include, but not be limited to, measures and procedures to protect the worker(s) such as:

  • specific measures and procedures for the protection of a worker (e.g., personal alarm, cell phone etc.)
  • a safety plan for the worker (e.g., escort to car, screening calls for worker, etc.)
  • completing a Notification of Potential Risk of Physical Injury (General Safety Plan) form (Appendix G) (Refer to the “Provision of Personal Information Regarding Persons with a History of Violent Behaviour” and the information relating to the protection of personal information).
  • reasonable modification of work duties, and/or flexible accommodations to the work schedule
  • security precautions such as security guards, cameras and response procedures
  • providing direction to other workers as appropriate to protect the safety and privacy of the targeted worker (e.g., not providing personal information over the phone, not posting identifying information on public websites)
  • referring the worker to an Employee Assistance Program (EAP)
  • assisting the worker in contacting the appropriate authorities and support services, e.g., Domestic Violence Unit of the local police force, women’s shelter, etc.
  • issuing trespass warnings and letters as necessary.

If the worker has a restraining order in place, he or she may wish to consider adding workplace location information to the order and advising the school board that this has been done.

School boards should determine how measures and procedures in the existing workplace violence program could be used to support the development of reasonable precautions for the worker and may want to consider conducting a violence risk assessment or reassessment to inform any changes to the workplace violence program.

For more information, refer to OHSA s. 32.0.4.