Corporations Launch EAP Initiative to Address Domestic Violence

Major employers such as Gap Inc., Kaiser Permanente, Liz Claiborne Inc., Macy’s and Verizon Wireless, along with leading Employee Assistance Program providers including Ceridian, CIGNA, Magellan Health Services, OptumHealth, ValueOptions and others, announced a new national plan to help employers make better use of EAPs to better assist employees who are victims of domestic violence.

The plan, called the S2 Blueprint for Action, outlines the significant advancements that employers and EAPs can implement to increase the level of support and assistance to victims, including:

Making the business case to CEOs, including the cost to business, liability issues, legal mandates, employee engagement and corporate social responsibility.
Managing the workplace environment, including developing and implementing a comprehensive domestic violence policy, positioning the EAP as a valued and effective resource, and changing communications to include domestic violence prevention in the promotion of health and well-being of employees.
Encouraging employers and brokers to ask about an EAP’s capabilities for identifying and addressing domestic violence issues for the workforce when soliciting proposals, and encouraging EAPs to proactively share their domestic violence programs as value-added strategies for employers when bidding for their business.
Integrating the expertise of the domestic violence service providers into the referral network offered by the EAP to the employer and providing those resources on brochures, posters, etc., in addition to the EAP.

The plan, developed at a major conference in San Francisco, is the first effort designed to leverage the work of EAPs to address domestic violence as a workplace issue. The S2 Blueprint for Action is available at http://www.caepv.org. The conference was organized by the Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence (CAEPV).

“We have engaged a powerful national collaboration through the S2 Blueprint,” said Kim Wells, executive director for the Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence. “This is the first time employers and EAPs have come together to address domestic violence as an issue that affects productivity, absenteeism, presenteeism, turnover, health care costs and workplace safety. If employers and EAPs can address these issues, they will provide a true ‘value-added’ service in this difficult economy.”

Research conducted by the CAEPV indicates that 21 percent of full-time employees are victims of domestic violence. Sixty-four percent of these employees indicated their ability to work was impacted by the abuse going on at home. Among key causes for their decline in productivity, victims noted "distraction" (57 percent); "fear of discovery" (45 percent); "harassment by intimate partner at work (either by phone or in person)" (40 percent); fear of intimate partner's unexpected visits" (34 percent); "inability to complete assignments on time" (24 percent); and "job loss" (21 percent).

CAEPV is promoting the S2 Blueprint for Action, and attendees will participate in a Webinar in February 2009, to evaluate their progress and determine next steps. The conference highlighted various ways that well-equipped EAPs can be used to assist domestic victims effectively and economically including:

Presenting workplace education programs on issues such as recognizing healthy and unhealthy relationships.
Providing resources including referrals to services such as counseling or legal assistance that can help a victim maintain stability while working.
Guiding managers in how to best assist employees who they think may be victims of domestic violence.
Being a valuable part of the “domestic violence response team” that includes management, human resources, security and the EAP to proactively address domestic violence cases impacting the workplace.

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