Supporting Workers Experiencing Domestic & Sexual Violence During the COVID-19 Pandemic
As workplaces adjust to an unfamiliar reality of remote interactions, these tips may help supervisors and coworkers recognize when a colleague may be experiencing violence at home, respond in a manner that centers the survivor’s physical and emotional safety needs, and refer them to resources available to help during the COVID-19 pandemic.
For Immediate Assistance
For some survivors of domestic violence, going to work or school can provide a safe haven and respite from the abuse experienced at home or in interpersonal and familial relationships. And the added stress of close quarters created by social distancing measures may indeed exacerbate violence experienced at home.
National Domestic Violence Hotline: (800) 799-7233 or chat
Options For Workers Who Are Survivors
Some states and localities allow workers who are forced to miss work by having to stay home, or who are subjected to reduced hours or missed shifts to file for unemployment insurance. Find out more info about your state’s unemployment insurance benefits.
Family Medical Leave Act
The Family Medical Leave Act may be available to protect some workers from losing their job when experiencing a serious health condition or taking care of family members under certain circumstances. Find out more about using FMLA.
Workers who have been diagnosed as having the virus or have been exposed and quarantined, may be able to file a disability claim if available in your state. Contact the labor office in your state to ask what protections are available or a local legal aid office that can advise you of your rights and your employer’s responsibilities.
Futures Without Violence Resources
- Information for Survivors, Communities, and Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault
- Support for Working Families
- Protecting Your Health
- Resources for Kids and Families
Flowchart: COVID-19, Paid Leave, and Unemployment by Family Values @ Work & National Employment Law Project
Questions to Ask Your Employer
- Is teleworking available to you? How soon can you be set up to telework and what do you need in order to do so?
- What leave, wage, and job protections does your employer provide? If those protections are not already provided by your employer, to protect the health and safety of the community, what would your employer be willing to provide because of the pandemic?
- If your position requires you to be in contact with those who have the virus or have been exposed to the virus, what health and safety measures and personal protective equipment are available to you?
- If you work for an employer with others, you don’t need to necessarily ask these questions by yourself. If your coworkers have similar concerns, you can make a request for answers to these questions as a group.
- Building Skills Partnership COVID-19 Resources
- Legal Aid at Work Coronavirus Update: Legal Information for Workers
- Legal Momentum: The Women’s Legal Defense and Education Fund COVID-19 Resources
- National Council for Occupational Safety and Health Coronavirus: Resources for Workers
- National Employment Law Project Resources to Support Workers During the Coronavirus Pandemic
- National Immigration Law Center Update on Access to Health Care for Immigrants and Their Families
- United Way 211 Program
Ways to Support Workers
The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed what survivors of domestic and sexual violence have always known: paid leave, flexible scheduling, and access to childcare are critical lifelines that allow workers the ability to take time off or adjust their schedules to attend to health and safety needs without losing income.
- Survivors, especially those who are paid low wages, face job-related economic and safety barriers every day.
- For workers surviving violence without the benefit of paid leave in order to access medical, legal, or counseling services, the threat of COVID-19 further exacerbates their economic insecurity.
- Although some states and local jurisdictions have enacted paid leave policies, the vast majority of survivors often face the impossible choice between their safety and a paycheck.
- As school districts nationwide close to slow the spread of COVID-19, many workers who are survivors may be forced to leave their jobs in order to care for their families. Survivors who are sole breadwinners without access to any childcare, will be facing an impossible situation; one that demonstrates the clear need for paid leave and accommodations for child care needs such as flexible scheduling and telework options.
If those who have more financial stability spread the “wealth” within their communities as a good neighbor, client, or patron, we can work together to “flatten the curve,” while still ensuring low-paid workers can continue to support themselves and their families.
- Hourly, low-wage, and gig workers will be especially impacted by measures taken to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Many will lose income, shifts, and may even lose their jobs altogether.
- For those who are receiving a salary or teleworking while practicing social distancing, and have the financial means to do so, consider ways you can financially support workers in your community who may not be able to work.
- If you are able, provide those who regularly take care of your children, clean your house, walk your dog, etc. with the wages you will not be paying them due to social distancing.
- Many restaurants, nail salons, and other establishments that provide services to the public will likely, at the very least, temporarily close. If you have a favorite server at your neighborhood restaurant, barista, nail technician, or similar professional who provides services to you, before their workplace closes, drop off an envelope addressed to them with some money or a check inside.
- Buy gift certificates from the establishments they work for now to be used once circumstances return to normal business operations.
- Donate non-perishable food or provide financial support to your local food bank
Worker Support Funds
- Coalition of Immokalee Workers (Fair Food Program) Masks for Farmworkers
- Good Jobs Institute List of Worker Relief Funds & Company Support
- National Day Laborer Organizing Network Immigrant Worker Safety Net Fund
- National Domestic Workers Alliance Coronavirus Cares Fund
- Restaurant Opportunities Center United List of Direct Financial Assistance