Central Maine employers learn about domestic abuse in the workplace

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WATERVILLE, Maine (WABI) - Domestic abuse can affect people at their jobs, but there are steps businesses can take to help accommodate their employees the best they can.

The Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce held a Domestic Abuse in the Workplace session for members Thursday morning at Thomas College.

"We're really here with the Mid-Maine Chamber to talk about why domestic violence is a workplace issue, and to really talk about how employers of any size can, without a lot of time and without a lot of money attached, really make an important outreach to their employees and respond to domestic violence as a workplace issue," said Kate Faragher Houghton, an independent violence prevention consultant with the Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence.

Experts taught members about the signs to look out for and how domestic abuse affects employees.

They also talked about how to respond to domestic abuse issues that employees bring up.

"Not necessarily training co-workers to be social workers or to be enforcement in one way or another, but really to provide the legal and ethical response of an employer, which is we see this as an issue that's impacting you at work," said Faragher Houghton. "We see it as a risk management issue. And in some cases we see it as an employee misconduct issue if the employee is a perpetrator of domestic abuse."

The speakers also told business owners about opportunities for professionals to come into their workplace and create a plan that best suits their workplace.

"As far as safety planning, it's important to have some type of plan in place so that when someone comes to you either as a co-worker or even to the H.R. department and says there's something going on in my life and I need to talk to you about it, you know the resources available and you know how to begin to help them to safety plan," said Kelly Smith, Program Assistant for the Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce.