President Obama signed a memorandum (PDF) yesterday requiring federal agencies to create comprehensive policies to assist employees who are victims of domestic violence. Federal agencies will be expected to have policies for preventing and intervening in domestic violence cases, both against or by employees. The agencies will also need to have specific guidelines for assisting victims and leave policies.

In the memo, the president wrote, “as the Nation’s largest employer, the Federal Government should act as a model in responding to the effects of domestic violence on its workforce.” The memo also states that “it is the policy of the Federal Government to promote the health and safety of its employees by acting to prevent domestic violence within the workplace and by providing support and assistance to Federal employees whose working lives are affected by such violence.”

The White House emphasized that employers can take action because violence can spill over into the workplace when victims are harassed at work or distracted from their jobs. Domestic violence costs the country $8 billion a year in the form of lost productivity and health care costs, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 1 in 3 women in the US will be a victim of rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by a partner according to the 2010 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey.

White House Press Release 4/18/12; White House Memorandum 4/18/12

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