The workplace is a place where people work together with mutual respect for each other. Despite this, some employees may engage in dangerous behavior that puts others at risk. A company’s anti-violence policy outlines what it will not tolerate and how it will handle incidents of workplace violence. You can use the following practices to start outlining your anti-violence policy. We encourage all employers to consult with counsel when developing their anti-violence policy.
State the Purpose of Your Policy
The policy must begin with a statement that workplace violence of any type is unacceptable. It also acknowledges the possibility of workplace violence within the workplace and of the steps to mitigate workplace violence.
- Our company ensures a safe working environment for all employees. We have developed this policy to explain our efforts to prevent workplace violence. This policy explains what all employees should do if they are confronted with violent situations or if they become aware of potential workplace violence.
Define Workplace Violence
Defining workplace violence and abusive behavior is crucial for everyone to understand at work. Your anti-violence policy may use these definitions:
- “Workplace violence” refers to violent acts or threats against another person or property.
- Physical, verbal, psychological, and sexual abuse are all acts of workplace violence. The definitions of abuse are as follows:
- Physical abuse includes unwanted or hostile physical contact, such as hitting, shoving, or throwing objects.
- Verbal abuse is defined as the use of unsolicited, humiliating, unpleasant, or threatening language.
- Psychological abuse refers to anything that causes fear or undermines the dignity or self-esteem of a person, including bullying or intimidation.
- Sexual abuse is unwanted verbal or physical assault of a sexual nature. Sexual abuse also includes acts motivated by, or related to, sexual harassment or domestic violence.
Develop Reporting Procedures
The anti-violence policy must state the procedures for reporting all incidents of workplace violence to the employer. To maintain objectivity during an investigation and safeguard the privacy of everyone involved, you must specify maintaining confidentiality as much as possible. This is how your policy can outline your reporting procedure:
- Incidents of workplace violence or potential workplace violence must be reported to the supervisor or the human resource (HR) department as soon as possible. Employees must complete the workplace violence reporting form and attach relevant evidence including, but not limited to, emails, text messages, online chat transcripts, and handwritten notes.
- The human resource (HR) department will investigate all reports in a confidential manner. They will share the results of the investigations with all parties involved.
- Disclosure of information and identification of the individuals involved in the incident may only occur when required by law.
- We will intervene decisively in the event of a hostile or violent situation including the involvement of local authorities.
Describe Disciplinary Measures
It is important that employees understand there will be consequences for workplace violence. The disciplinary measures include a more general wording to encompass all levels of the company:
- Workplace violence is a major concern at our company. Any employee who commits an act of workplace violence will face disciplinary measures by the company, up to and including termination.
Train Employees on Workplace Violence Prevention
Ensure your policy contains language that all employees receive workplace violence training about company procedures and potential signs of workplace violence hazards:
- Workers who may encounter violence will receive instruction in the following procedures:
- Reduce the likelihood of violence
- Identify and manage potentially dangerous situations
- Take action and seek help when necessary
- Report and document all incidents
- At orientation, new employees will learn about the hazards of their job and how to deal with potential workplace violence. All employees will receive workplace violence training every two (2) years.
Establish an Assessment Team
An assessment team can identify workplace violence risks by studying known hazards such as inadequate security, a lack of staff, and the perception that violent acts are not taken seriously. You can also outline the prevention of potential risks at work in your policy:
- The company’s assessment team shall identify all factors contributing to workplace violence that include:
- Working conditions and the locations of all workplaces
- Workplace violence reports or the possibility of workplace violence
- Company investigations into workplace violence and potential workplace violence
- Workplace violence prevention and protection measures
- The assessment team must inform employees of recent incidents and identify potential risks of workplace violence. They can discuss the implementation of any new control measures.
- The team notifies employees of the client(s), customer(s), or individual(s) in the workplace who may pose a risk.
- The employees will know the name(s) of the individual(s), the nature of the risk, and the steps to take to manage the risk including involving local authorities.
- The team provides this information to all employees likely to encounter the individual(s). Employees must not disclose this information without prior authorization from the team.
Include an Anti-Retaliation Policy
Employees must not have to fear retaliation and the loss of their jobs if they are victims of workplace violence. Include this language in your policy:
- Employees who seek medical treatment or counseling from a physician or other healthcare professional of their choice because of workplace violence will not lose any pay or benefits.
- Retaliation against individuals who report incidents of workplace violence or participate in an investigation is prohibited. The company will take all reasonable and practical steps to prevent retaliation and retaliation threats.
Your Workplace Anti-Violence Policy Can Save Lives
Having a well-thought anti-violence policy should prepare your organization for potential acts of workplace violence. In addition, preventing workplace violence through awareness and training will benefit your company, your employees, and the community as a whole.