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Agencies tasked with domestic violence planning

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Federal agencies have 4 months to develop policies to address the impact of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking in the workplace, including support plans for workers affected by such violence.

In a Feb. 8 memo, Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry gave agencies 120 days to develop policies that include employee assistance programs, punitive actions against employees who engage in these behaviors, time off or flexible working schedules for victims, and workplace security requirements.

Berry's memo notes that "some agencies have already taken steps to address these issues" and that the recommendations OPM guidance (.pdf) incorporate some of those steps. The guidance not only addresses an agency's role, but also how to work with groups such as unions and law enforcement.

While it calls for the development of various teams, such as one to assess workplace incidents, and for new record keeping systems, the guidance does not state how agencies are to pay for the programs or any needed systems.

Berry said the information is being provided under direction of an April 18, 2012 presidential memo that asked the Office of Personnel Management "to issue guidance to agencies on the content of agency-specific policies… to prevent domestic violence and address its effects on the federal workforce."

The presidential memo cites data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention that says domestic violence costs the nation $8 billion each year in lost productivity and health care costs.

To help agencies develop policies and programs, OPM will host a series of webinars with the Justice and Health and Human Services departments on domestic violence and the role of employers and workplace security.

Final policies must be set by agencies within 6 months after submitting an initial draft to OPM.

For more:
- read Berry's memo
- download the OPM guidance (.pdf)

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