An employer’s duty: We are in this together! 

Employer Duty:

Employers who are aware or who ought reasonably to be aware of intimate partner violence, that would likely expose a worker to physical injury that may occur in the workplace, must take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances to protect a worker. 

– Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act

How Does IPV Affect Your Workplace

Intimate partner violence offenders want control over their victims everywhere possible. Places of worship, medical facilities, entertainment facilities and yes, the workplace. Employers, supervisors and HR managers are in a unique position to affect positive change in the lives of victims and in our own workplace.


of workplace violence stems from personal relationships.

Victim Services of Nipissing attended to


incidents of IPV from
April 1, 2021 to March 31, 2022

Health & Safety in the Workplace

Intimate partner violence at home has the potential to spill over into the workplace, either through unwanted attention from the offender or even violence.

A healthy workforce is a productive workforce. It’s a given that when things aren’t right at home, performance and morale at work is affected.

Did you know that victims of intimate personal violence are:


more likely to have a stroke


more likely to drink heavily


more likely to have heart disease


more likely to have asthma

What To Look For As an Employer

As employers, managers and supervisors there are warning signs that can alert potential issues related to IPV. It is important to be aware of employee’s interpersonal relationships with each other because often co-workers are the first to be alerted to problems.

What To Look For as an Employee, Friend, or Family Member

As co-workers, friends and family, there are flags and warning signs that can alert us to potential issues so we can be supportive.

The spectrum below indicates four main areas but nothing is carved in stone and we must all use our own judgment in supporting those who count on us for a safe workplace.


Normal workplace functions. The partner is either supportive or indifferent. The employee is doing well in a calm, steady manner. The employee appears to be in control, behaving ethically & morally. Their demeanour, dress and their office interpersonal style can be noted as a baseline.

Business partners riding the bus to work





Calm, Steady & Control

Performing Well

Behaving Ethically & Morally

Socially Active


Get to know employees

Be approachable

Practice active listening

Note usual employee behaviours

Promote empathy

Reduce stigma

Advocate healthy workplace


There are possible signs the employee’s partner is attempting control by interfering with transportation and access to the workplace. They may attempt interference in the workplace through excessive interruptions. The partner may also attempt to involve other employees by inappropriate questioning. Trust your instincts.

Frowning concerned manager speaking on cellphone outside. Young African American business woman standing near outdoor glass wall. Mobile phone talk concept


Interfering with transportation

Hiding or stealing ID cards

Excessive calls, texts, emails

Questioning co-workers


Often late for work

Nervous, anxious

Hiding injuries

Decreased productivity

Poor concentration

Occasional loss of emotional control

Employer Response

Monitor behaviours & note changes

Actively listen to concerns

Identify unhealthy situations

Minimize stressors

Be empathetic

Gently intervene

Consult with experts

Identify resources

Refer where practical


There are signs the employee’s domestic situation is deteriorating. This requires you to intervene to assist the employee and ensure workplace safety. You need to increase vigilance and address any unacceptable employee behaviour, which may present an opportunity to promptly intervene and prevent escalation.

The time may have arrived to involve external resources.  Empathize with the employee and do not exhibit anger towards the partner. Accommodate the employee or employees who can help.  It is essential to maintain contact with the employee in order to ensure support and monitor the situation.  Minimize rumours but honour confidentiality.

Depressed woman covering face with hands and crying in loft apartment, selective focus


Interfering at workplace

Threatening deportation

Deceiving co-workers

Verbally abusive to employee(s)


Missing work

Overlooking appearance details

Forgetting important things

Impaired decision making

Increased accidental injuries

Nervous in partner’s presence

Employer Response

Increase vigilance

Address unacceptable behaviour

Intervene promptly

Involve resources


Accommodate employee(s)

Maintain contact with employee

Ensure support

Minimize rumours


The situation is out of hand. Safety and security are paramount. Action is unquestionably required. You must sustain vigilance and ensure workplace safety for all. You may have to involve security/law enforcement personnel. If possible, sustain employee contact and continue to empathize. Ensure resources & support are available for the employee. If practical, continue to include the employee in work activities. Be encouraging to all your employees and, where appropriate, keep them informed. Everyone should be vigilant, know workplace safety plans and must involve management & supervisor with observations or concerns.

Sad unhappy grieving crying woman with tears eyes closeup


Physically restraining employee

Threatening employee(s)

Destroying property

Physically harming employee(s)


Avoiding or withdrawing


Memory lapses

Cannot perform duties


Loss of control

Employer Response

Maintain vigilance

Ensure workplace safety

Involve security/law enforcement

Maintain employee contact


Ensure resources & support

Accommodate medical limitations

Include employee in work activities