The Office of Personnel Management has started working on new government-wide policies on domestic violence in the federal workplace, beginning by asking federal agencies to send in their existing policies.
“It is the goal of this administration to promote healthy and safe work environments for all federal employees; therefore, it is important to ensure that the appropriate support and guidelines are in place to prevent domestic violence in the workplace,” a May 25 memo to agencies said.
OPM noted that in April, President Obama issued a memo saying the government “should act as a model in responding to the effects of domestic violence on its workforce.” Obama’s memo said that although agencies have taken steps including providing security protections and employee assistance programs, government-wide policy is needed. It tasked OPM with issuing such a policy by the end of the year.
Agencies are to send their existing policies to OPM by July 18.
“The intent of this review is to heighten awareness of what procedures agencies have already developed to address this critical issue. The information received from a review of the current policies will help to inform the eventual governmentwide policy,” the OPM memo said.
OPM said it will consult with other agencies having expertise related to domestic violence before issuing its guidance, which will recommend steps agencies “can take as employers for early intervention in and prevention of domestic violence.” Under the presidential memo, the guidance also is to include policies for: assisting employee victims; granting leave relating to domestic violence situations; taking disciplinary action against employees who commit or threaten acts of domestic violence; and improving workplace safety related to domestic violence.
The Merit Systems Protection Board recently said that federal workplaces are vulnerable to violence not just from being located in high-crime areas or from dealing with violent members of the public but from other reasons including conflicts rooted in events outside the workplace.