Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Leading Corporations Engage Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) to Combat Domestic Violence in the Workplace

This unprecedented initiative focuses on leveraging resources of EAPs and employers to better assist employees affected by domestic violence.
On November 6 and 7, major employers such as Verizon Wireless, Liz Claiborne Inc., Macy’s, and Gap Inc., along with leading EAP providers including CIGNA, OptumBehavioral Health, ValueOptions and others will work together to create a new national plan to help employers make better use of EAPs to help employees who are victims of domestic violence. The plan, called the S2 Blueprint for Action, will outline the significant advancements that employers and EAPs can move forward during the next one to three years to increase the level of support and assistance to employees involved in domestic violence.

The plan is the first such effort designed to leverage the work of EAPs and employers in responding to domestic violence in the workplace. During this fragile economic time, tapping existing resources to assist employees who are victims of domestic violence is critically important. The conference was organized by the Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence (CAEPV).

Research conducted by the CAEPV indicates that 21 percent of full-time employees are victims of domestic violence. Sixty-four (64) 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%); "fear of discovery" (45%); "harassment by intimate partner at work (either by phone or in person)" (40%); fear of intimate partner's unexpected visits" (34%); "inability to complete assignments on time" (24%); and "job loss" (21%).

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:

- EAPs can present workplace education programs on issues such as recognizing healthy and unhealthy relationships.
- EAPs can provide resources including referrals to services such as counseling or legal assistance that can help a victim maintain stability while working.
- EAPs can guide managers in how to best assist employees who they think may be victims of domestic violence.
- EAPs can be 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.

A powerful national collaboration will be engaged through the S2 - Safer, Smarter Workplace Conference. This is the first time employers and EAPs will come together to address domestic violence as an issue that affects productivity, absenteeism, presenteeism, turnover, healthcare costs and workplace safety. If employers and EAPs can strategically address these issues, they will provide a true "value-added" service in this difficult economy.

The S2 – Smarter, Safer Workplace Conference takes place November 6 and 7 at the Westin St. Francis in San Francisco. For more information, visit http://www.caepv.org/about/program_detail.php?refID=35.

About the S2 – Safer, Smarter Workplace Conference
The S2 – Safer, Smarter Workplace conference is presented by the Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence. This conference was made possible by a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, with additional support provided by The Allstate Foundation, Blue Shield of California Foundation, CALCASA, Health Care Service Corporation and Texas Health Resources.

The Technology Sponsor for the conference is the Verizon Foundation.

The conference planning workgroup includes representatives from the following organizations: Chestnut Global Partners; CIGNA; Gap Inc.; Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health; Macy’s West; Magellan Health Services; OptumHealth Behavioral Solutions.

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