Irene Jansen  CUPE Equality

In 2014, 8,429 workers answered the first ever Canadian survey on domestic violence in the workplace.

Just over a third (33.6 per cent) said they had experienced domestic violence and it affected them at work.

  • 82 per cent of respondents who experienced domestic violence said it had a ne­gative effect on their work performance, and over a third reported that co-workers were affected as well.
  • Almost nine per cent lost a job because of domestic violence.
  • Over half of respondents who experienced domestic violence said it occurred at or near their workplace, in the form of abusive calls and messages, stalking or the abuser contacting co-workers or the employer.

Women, Aboriginal workers, persons with disabilities and LGBTTI workers reported the highest rates.

Of the respondents who discussed the domestic violence with someone at work, only 13 per cent spoke to their union.

Respondents were as likely to receive information about domestic violence from their employer as their union, though almost three-quarters had heard nothing. Only 10.6 per cent of respondents believe their employer is aware when domestic violence is affecting workers, and the assessment of union awareness is only slightly higher (11.3 per cent). However, more expect the union (87 per cent) than the employer (62 per cent) to help workers experiencing domestic violence.

CUPE was part of the multi-union group that helped the Canadian Labour Congress and Western University design and rollout the survey. Together with these organizations CUPE will use the survey findings to raise awareness internally and to fight for better laws, collective agreement language and workplace programs.

A few models exist for how unions can address domestic violence. Australian unions have bargained paid leave, protection from adverse action and flexible work arrangements for victims of domestic violence. In Canada, Unifor negotiated the Women’s Advocate program, teachers in the Yukon got five days of special leave, and social stewards in the Canadian Union of Postal Workers help peers in violent relationships.

If you know of collective agreement language or programs on domestic violence currently in place in CUPE workplaces, please contact

To learn more about the survey, see: